Neither Death nor Life
April 13, 2016
by Adam Thomas
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
If I had to pick a pair of verses from the Bible that tell the entire epic story of God’s presence in and love for creation, the two above are it. The essence of most sermons I preach boil down to the content of these two verses. They were written on my old guitar case. I used the citation for a combination lock once. And now, whenever I say healing prayers, I always end with this verse. They are words of hope and conviction, as well as ringing with the crystal clarity of truth.
They also happen to be one of the selections suggested for funeral services. These are Paul’s soaring words about the love of God that show the infinite and eternal lengths to which God goes to remain in relationship with us. Nothing – not even death – can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Think about that statement for just a minute. We might survive because we metabolize nutrients and breath air and replenish our water supplies. But we live because of the love of God. The love of God is the foundation of existence; it is the thing from which we cannot and will not be separated. Not even dying will separate us from that love because life happens with so much grander scope than death could ever hope for.
This is the truth that we discover in Christ’s resurrection. This is the truth that lives in our guts and ripples along with tremors of grief when a loved one dies. This is the truth that is the salt in our tears. This is the truth that mingles with our sadness and leavens it with a hidden hope that God’s love will enfold the grieving as that love has already enfolded the deceased. That’s why we read these verses at funerals. They remind us that funerals are Easter celebrations. They speak of true reality. And they speak good news.
Each of us has a locus of fear within ourselves that whispers incessantly that something can and does in fact separate us from God’s love. These somethings are different for each person, but they all share one thing in common. Each is a lie. Pray about what that something is for you, and then remember Paul’s words of truth. Make them your own, as you are and always will be God’s own.