Summary: When the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord is the treasure buried deep in our heart, nothing in all of creation can shake our faith and resolve.

July 26, 2020

Hope Lutheran Church

Pastor Mary Erickson

Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Nothing in All of Creation

Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid. Then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.”

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

St. Paul revealed what his heart treasured. Today we hear his soaring declaration of the hope that sustains him:

There is nothing – in all of creation – that can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord! No, NOTHING can separate us from this great love! Nothing!

Paul speculates, “Well, what about hardship? Can hardship separate me from God’s love?” No! he replies. Nothing!

He tries again, “So if not hardship, then what about persecution? or famine? Where is God when we’re being persecuted? Where is God in times of want?”

But Paul remains steadfast, “No, I said NOTHING! Nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God. Don’t you think I know a thing or two about hardship and persecution? I do, and I’m tellin’ you, Paul, God has been with me through it all! When I was parched and hungry, when I was beaten and left for dead, yes, even then, God’s steadfast love never failed me!”

Paul tries again. “Are you sure, brother? Because it certainly feels like we’re sheep being led to the slaughter here! I think you’re delusional, brother.”

But Paul is resolute. “No, I am convinced! There’s nothing! Not even death! Not even higher, transcendent powers. No angels, no demons, no earthly tyrants, nothing, brother! Nothing that has happened or is happening or will happen. From the highest high to the lowest low. There is NOTHING, brother. Nothing can possibly separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord!”

It’s not that Paul had never wavered. He knew the dark night of the soul. His heart had trembled with fear, with doubt and indecision. Paul wasn’t a Titan; he wasn’t super human. He wasn’t immune from terror and misgivings.

But Paul had lived through a lot. This was the man who’d been beaten more times than he could count. He’d been shipwrecked; he’d been jailed; he’d gone to bed hungry and cold. He’d had to escape a lynch mob by being let down in a basket from the city walls of Damascus. It was precisely because of his humanity and his vulnerability that he knew!

He’d been bruised up and banged up. He’d been rounded up and rung up. But he’d learned not to let them bring him down. Because there was a higher power. There was a power, a love so high and so wide. It ran deep and strong. And nothing could exterminate it. Nothing! This divine love had him.

Paul knew the gasps and SIGHS of despair. But it was then, then in his lowest hour, when he felt the gentle uplifting of the Spirit underneath him. “Paul,” it whispered, “I’m with you now. Nothing can take me away from you. Nothing can overcome me, because I’ve overcome … everything.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid. Then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.”

This is the great treasure of God’s kingdom. It’s the blessed assurance that God’s love envelops and embraces us with a love that will not let us go.

My heart has been sad this week because a leader from the Civil Rights era of the 1960’s has passed on.

John Lewis has passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 80. John played a pivotal role in our nation’s journey towards racial justice. His legacy has left a lasting mark on who we are today as a nation.

John was born to Alabama sharecroppers. Church and Sunday School were a part of his weekly routine. John’s parents raised him not to challenge the Jim Crow systems in place in the South.

But as a teenager, John was inspired by the actions and words of Rosa Parks and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

John Lewis participated in sit-in’s at lunch counters reserved for Whites Only. He was one of the original freedom riders on segregated busses.

John’s deeds of non-violent protest were firmly grounded in his faith. His actions were anchored in his treasure. Reflecting on those times, he stated,

“The civil rights movement was based on faith. Many of us who were participants in this movement saw our involvement as an extension of our faith. We saw ourselves doing the work of the Almighty. Segregation and racial discrimination were not in keeping with our faith, so we had to do something.”

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