What separates us? Politics? Race? North/South? Young/Old? Haves/Have Nots? Powerful/Powerless? Free/Enslaved? Lost/Saved? Christian/non-Christian?
Paul, formerly Saul, tells us nothing can separate us. All of us are inseparable from God, Christ being the link. A devout Jew and former persecutor of Christians, Paul rather dramatically became one of the most significant followers of Christ. He wrote a particularly powerful letter to the Romans, which asks: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8: 35). His list might have included my opening paragraph. His answer as to what would separate us is one of my favorite Biblical passages: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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: 37-39). So united in God’s love nothing can separate us.
I’d like to invite readers to appreciate that Christ is ever-present, without beginning or end. That Christ is the manifestation of God-given love and truth available to us. That Christ’s meaning and magnitude have little relation to today’s over-worked use of the word “Christian”–a word often misused, misunderstood, and cavalierly claimed by those living far removed from the spiritual grace innate in Christ. Emanating from God, the Principle behind all that is, Christ unites us. Christ is not bound up in denominational strife nor antipathy towards non-believers. Christ is the universal goodness embracing all God’s children. We have but to see it, to live it. Christ is the healing power Jesus demonstrated, a power available to those who live his teachings.
Paul’s Christliness grew from listening to God and following Jesus’ teachings. Paul did not get hung-up on the word “Christian”. He simply wanted to know the truth and live it. He found the Christ and transformed his life accordingly. We have the same opportunity. Entreated “to love one another” because “God is love” (1John 4:8) we have the ability to feel and express the unity in which nothing can separate us.
Artwork: Cloistered Yew, framed watercolor, 32″ x 26″ $975. On a trip to Ireland, I was enchanted by Muckross Abbey in Killarney, a Franciscan friary dating between 1340 and 1448 and its magnificent centerpiece–a 400 year old yew reaching above cloistered walls. The abbey has a turbulent history but it survived all, including being plundered by Cromwell’s forces. Apparently “neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come” could topple it. While alone painting there I felt a haunting about the place as if I were not alone.