Monday, July 24, 2006

More than Conquerors!

Sounds good, doesn't it? But take a look at the context:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8.35-37
There are at least two ways to interpret this passage:
  1. Maybe it's saying that because Christ loves us (or because we love him?) we won't ever face trouble, persecution, etc. (Yeah right).
  2. It could mean that when trouble, persecution, etc. come, they will not be able to change Christ's love toward us.
The structure of the sentence (it says, in all these things we are more than conquerors - in other words, in the midst of persecution, trouble, etc. we are more than conquerors), plus the book of Acts, shows #1 is impossible.

So if those things don't separate us from Jesus's love, how does that make us "more than conquerors"? I think Paul had a completely different view of life than most of us do. I can tell this because of what he wrote a few verses back:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8.28-29
When Paul says that God works for our good, he doesn't say anything about career or health or relationships. Nothing about safety or comfort either.
So we could be getting persecuted or killed, and still be "more than conquerors" if we are becoming more like Jesus in the midst of it. Imagine if you're about to be killed and yet you can pronounce a benediction on your persecutors/assassins/executioners. Wow, that would be power. That would be more than a conqueror.
Instead, Paul seems to think that my good means "being conformed to the likeness of his Son" -- that is to say, the best thing for me is in fact to become like Jesus. This is a view of life that I want to have -- to value everything in my life from that point of view.

Ah, but do I want it badly enough? Dear God, please help me to want what's good, rather than what's merely comfortable or comforting.

posted 7/27

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