Romans 8:35-36- “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”’
There are some separations in life that are good for us and some that are not! For example, when we were children and had to attend school and had to separate from our moms, that was a good separation! Being involved in an abusive relationship and leaving the abuser, good separation! Leaving the Lord, BAD separation!
Paul asks another one of his questions? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ! This word “who”, in the Vine’s is actually translated from the Greek word “tis” which means “nothing”. As such, it takes this from a question to a declarative statement, “Nothing shall separate you from the love of Christ!” In the truest sense of the point that Paul is making, nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ. In the practical sense, he names a few things that we can allow to separate us from the love of Christ.
Shall tribulation? Tribulations are those things which weigh on us, anything which burdens the spirit! Jesus spoke to His disciples before going to the cross with these words:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NKJV
Whatever tribulations that come to us through living in this world, Jesus has overcome already, so there is no reason that tribulation should separate us from the love of Christ!
Shall distress? Distress means a narrowness of space, a tight place! That means difference things for different people, tight finances, tight situation that make you feel like you are between a rock and a hard place! The psalmist wrote:
In tight circumstances, I cried out to the Lord.Psalm 118:5 CSB
The Lord answered me with wide-open spaces.
When a situation is tight, God can broaden the playing field! So Paul asks, will we allow distress to separate us from the love of Christ who is able to broaden our space?
Shall persecution? There are things in life that causes us to flee! Much as the Christians in Paul’s day often found themselves doing. While we might not be afraid of someone finding us to harm us, we can still undergo circumstances in our home, our jobs, or other relationships that could cause us to feel like we are being driven away from a situation! I had a job that made me feel this way! Typically, hardships don’t make me flee, but this time, I was under intense persecution. I could have stayed and fought, but I chose to leave! Looking back even today, I know I made the right decision! Did it separate me from the love of Christ? Actually, it drew me closer!
Jesus shared a parable with His disciples that we call the parable of the sower. Hear what He had to say about those who are persecuted:
Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.Matthew 13:21 NKJV
When there is no depth to the relationship in Christ, then yes, persecution will cause us to stumble! What’s the precaution we need to take? Get rooted in Him and then there will be no worries about going through persecutions!
Shall famine! No matter what country we live in, we have times of plenty and times of famine. Unfortunately, some experience famine more than they experience plenty. I have experienced them both, and can I keep it real? I prefer the times of plenty! Paul said:
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:12-13 NKJV
I can’t be honest and say that I am ever truly content in famine, but I can honestly say it has never caused me to separate from the love of Christ! Paul said he was content in whatever stage he found himself in. How could he be so content? He had unwavering faith in the love of Christ Jesus! Nothing, in his mind, was enough to separate him from the love of Christ!
Shall nakedness? I grew up wearing hand me downs for much of my youth. I can understand the struggles of not having enough food, or nice clothing, or new clothing, and what that does to the psyche. But these things are material things that should not have enough power to separate us from the love of Christ. Jesus said,
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Matthew 6:32b-33 NKJV
Shall peril? Facing dangerous situations is serious business. I love to read Christian thrillers where the heroine is running for her life, but I have no desire to ever be in those type of situations. Having said that, even dangerous situations should not cause us to be separated from the love of Christ. Paul faced many dangers for the cause of Christ, and is not speaking flippantly in this letter. For example, the prophet Agabus told Paul that if he went up to Jerusalem that he would be bound and delivered up to the Gentiles. When the people heard this they tried to convince Paul to change his plans. Paul responded,
“What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”Acts 21:13 NKJV
Shall sword? Paul used the word for short dagger, representative of physical violence, or judgment against an individual. Did it matter to Paul how it was interpreted? I don’t think so, because in this entire list, Paul saw the seriousness of all that we could face for the cause of Christ, or just because we are His. Yet, Paul still felt that this was not a good reason to separate from the love of Christ!
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.Hebrews 11:37-40 NKJV
Even in the face of everything going wrong that could possibly go wrong, Paul understood that nothing was better than the love of Christ. Escaping hardships, living a life filled with one thing after another, or succumbing to them, Paul believed that Jesus was worth it all. How about us? Have we come to a place in our faith in Jesus, where He is worth it all? Where we will allow absolutely nothing to separate us from Him? That’s something to really settle in our hearts! Wonderful Jesus!