Summary: Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, A sermon from Romans 8:35-37, but also using Luke 15, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, as a good lesson.
A son once left home against his parents will and went to live in California. You know, the California everyone dreams about, the beaches, the movie stars. The California that is in movies, and you hear about in songs. Well, then there is the real California. Soon he was out of money, out of friends, and out of options. He had hit the bottom, he was at the end of his rope, he did not know what else he could do..
So, he wrote a letter home to his parents. “Dear Mom and Dad, I'm sorry for what I've done. I don't have any excuse. There's no reason for you to love me or welcome me back home. But I'm at the bottom of the barrel, and if its okay, I would like to come home. I am hoping that you'll take me back. I have been given a ticket for a train, a ticket to get me back home. The train comes past our farm just south of the city. It comes around the bend and right past our farmhouse. If you want me to come home, please put a white towel on the clothesline, out in the back yard near the tracks. If a towel is there, I will know that you want me to come back home. If there is no towel there, I'll know that I shouldn't come back home.”
The young man sent the letter, got on the train, and started out on his trip home. As he came closer to his destination, he became more and more nervous inside and was pacing up and down the center aisle of the train. As the train came closer and closer to his farmhouse, he couldn’t bear it anymore. He said to the man sitting next to him, “Sir, around this next corner, around this bend, there is going to be a farm house on the left. A white house with an old red barn behind it. Its got an old dilapidated fence. There will be a clothesline in the back yard. Would you do me a favor and look and see if there is a white towel hanging on the clothesline? I know it sounds strange, but I can’t bear to look.” The train came closer and closer and it started to go around the bend, and the young man’s heart was racing as fast as it could. The man said, “Well, it looks to me like ... um, yes, look, open your eyes!” When the young man opened his eyes, he looked out the window to see that the whole clothesline was covered with white towels. The barn roof was covered with white sheets, the trees were all covered with white sheets, The old fence was covered with white sheets. There were white towels and sheets everywhere. And in that moment, the young man knew that he was welcome home.
Now you may be thinking, or at least I hope you are thinking, that sounds like the Prodigal Son story that we read about in Luke chapter 15. And it is close, but this week that story has some special meaning. This week our scripture focus is found in the book of Romans, chapter 8. Let’s read it again.
Romans 8:35-39, “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. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
The young man that went to California, disregarded what his parents told him. Forgot their years of hardship, their sleepless nights, their love for him, completely. He wanted nothing more than to take what was his, and go see the wild life, for himself. What did it get him? Nothing, but at the same time he learned an amazing lesson. That nothing, absolutely nothing was able to separate him from the love of his parents. Did it matter if he wasted all of his money? Nope. Did it matter if he came home hurt, or disabled, or blind? Nope! Did his parents care about anything at all, except to see their son come back home? NOPE!
Do you know why?... Let me remind you with some words you heard a few minutes ago. These are the same scripture verse from earlier, but from a different book. “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture (Romans 8:35-37, The Message).