Toft Evensong 27th July 2008.
<<God works in all situations // No situation is out of reach of God's love.>>
Where is life hard for you at the moment?
Grandmother (88) arthiritis, partially sighted.
Dad – prostate cancer; radiotherapy
Cousin – testicular cancer; chemo
all generations/ all of us.
* illness; old age
- unemployment – struggling to make ends meet
- competing demands – pulled in different directions
- depression / mental health issues
- unfulfilled desires / longings – home or family life.
None of these are good things. One of the wondrous things about being a Christian is that we believe and trust in a God who is bigger than these things.
St Paul suffered just as much – maybe more than other Christians. Sickness, imprisoned, rejected, starved, shipwrecked.
Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Exposition. Go thru passage pause on some key verses. Arpi printed out reading – some find it helpful
(1) God works in all situations
v28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.”
Bold statement! All things... even the list above?
Suffering wears us down.. “What is the purpose of my life?”
What purpose? v29 “to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
or more positve idiom: transformed into the image of his Son.
Here is the ultimate purpose – Jesus may have lived only 33 years – lived more fully that anyone has done or will do.
Jesus never married or had a sexual relationship, didn't have a fixed address, died at a young age, was abandoned and rejected by many. Yet he lived to a much fuller, deeper and more fulfilled life than anyone.
Wondrous truth is that life is not a holy relic kept behind a glass cabinet.
God works in all things to transform us into the image of his son.
Even in the most challenging aspects of our lives. Especially in the most challenging aspects of our lives – there God is at work, transforming us.
Glorified – what happens after we die. Fully transformed. All the less desirable bits of our character that were never quite tidied up in this life. Grumpy habits we blamed on our bad digestion.
Even in death, for Christian believers God is at work.
“But lo! There breaks a yet more glorious day:
The Saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on his way. Alleluia!”
#. (2) No situation is out of reach of God's love.
other side of same coin...
Develops his argument in a new direction.
v31 “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Almost hear the recipients of his letter saying “lots of people against us. Jews, Roman authorities”
True that if we accept that God works in all situations then no situation is out of reach of God's love. Any enemy looks an awful lot smaller than God and no enemy can get between us and God.
v36 quoting Psalm 44 – psalm close to despair has God abandoned us?
Depressing – psalms like rest of OT raise lots of questions that are only answered in NT
Ends “Rise up, O Lord, to help us, and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.”
Steadfast love has been proved in Jesus. Steadfast love remains. Remains in the face of anything so we need not fear.
V37 “Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
v38-39 even the situations we once despaired of, we can be confident of God's steadfast love.
Last PCC feast day martyrs of Uganda
|On 3 June 1886, thirty-two young men, pages of the court of King Mwanga of Buganda, were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. In the following months many other Christians throughout the country died by spear or fire for their faith. These martyrdoms totally changed the dynamic of Christian growth in Uganda. Introduced by a handful of Anglican and Roman missionaries after 1877, the Christian faith had been preached only to the immediate members of the court, by order of King Mutesa. His successor, Mwanga, became increasingly angry as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885. Mwanga first forbade anyone to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to cool the ardor of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity. The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga's intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Chilling, Harrowing... inspiring... only pray that in a similar situation I would have the faith and courage to do the same. Inspiring that these young men had taken the message of this chapter of Romans and not just understood it in their heads, but with the whole entirety of their being.In the face of their example, it may put our struggles into new perspective. So with apologies to St Paul, I have re-written the last verse of this chapter to help us to grasp what it might mean for us:-|
“For I am persuaded that neither cancer nor chemotherapy, nor work nor unemployment, nor depression nor desire, nor too much nor too little, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“In heavenly love abiding
no change my heart shall fear;
and safe is such confiding,
for nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
my heart may low be laid
but God is round about me
and can I be dismayed?”