Inseparable: Beyond Winners and Losers
Romans 8:31, 34-39
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted 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, 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.
We are in the midst of the playoffs and the NBA Finals. We are in an election year and the stakes is high, or do it seems. And everyone wants to win. To be on top. And in life, that’s what we’re told is what’s important. Winning and not losing. Being on top and not being at the bottom. Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” to Kirk Franklin and the Family’s “Conquerors.” Inside and outside of the church, it seems like life is about getting the W and being on top and avoiding the L and being at the bottom. Cuz if you ain’t winning then you’re losing.
Saints, our world is geared so much towards winning and losing that we can make it the end-all be-all of our existence.
We often think of conquerors and winners as the pinnacle of all. Throughout history conquerors have shaped the world, justly and unjustly, but the world was shaped nonetheless. We root for our favorite sports team to win it all. Some Warriors fans don’t just want to beat the Cavs. They want to sweep the Cavs with 40 point blowouts every game.
We don’t like to lose. We want to win every argument. We will be arguing with someone for twenty years trying to win an argument. I’ve seen families almost come to blows playing spades and bid whist. Sometimes against one’s own teammate who reneged or let a book slip away. Religiously we are no different. We talk about Jesus conquering the grave and defeating death. We talk so much about winning and losing, we frame salvation in terms of winning and losing, heaven or hell. Saints, our world is geared so much towards winning and losing that we can make it the end-all be-all of our existence.
That’s how we do things. But the question is, is that how God does things?
In Romans, Paul tells us something different. He tells us that we are more than conquerors… Which means we are not simply conquerors. We are more than conquerors. But what does it mean to be more than a conqueror? It means that we are those who cannot be separated from God’s love.
That struck me.
Paul said something that I missed. I’ve read this part of Romans over and over but I still missed it. Paul says that we are MORE than conquerors through him who loved us. He didn’t say we are conquerors. He said we are more than conquerors. What does that mean?
It means that for Christians, being a conqueror is not the end-all, be-all of our existence.
God being for us does not mean that we will always win.
God being for us does not mean that God is on our side and will take up every cause that we decide to embark upon. That would mean that we are nothing but mere conquerors. Ho-hum. We wouldn’t be the first or the last group to claim the gods are own our side and that’s why we are on top. Ho-hum, Christian. Sigh, Saint.
God being for us means that God desires to be with us and has given us Jesus as an assurance. When God is for us, nothing can separate us from God. God being for us does not mean that we will always win. In fact, being with God might place us in harms way.
Conquerors are on top of everyone else but that doesn’t mean that they are with everyone else. In fact, to be a conqueror is to be above and not to be with. Whoever wins the NBA Finals will not be with the one who lost. The conquistadors who took the lands of native Americans and enslaved Africans were “above,” but they couldn’t be with them. That is because that when we dominate folks, we are not interested in truly being with folks. We are more interested in maintaining our power than the quality of our relationships. The Love of God is concerned with the quality of our relationships. I have to make this plain because I was confused and we live in such a dog eat dog world that we cannot see that our lives and even our faith has been shaped into the logic of winners and losers, conquerors and the conquered, insiders and outsiders.
Nothing can separate us from God’s love. We ain’t talking about defeating or being on top; we are talking about not being separated from God and each other. And the only thing that can keep us together is love. Being a winner doesn’t keep us together. Being a loser doesn’t keep us together. Being on top doesn’t keep us together. And being on bottom doesn’t keep us together. We can win an argument and lose a friend. And then we wonder if the argument was really worth the friendship. Can I get a witness somebody?
Paul says we have to be more than conquerors. We can only understand what we have conquered and what are called to conquer after we seek something beyond conquest. We can only understand what winning is when we no longer let winning be the end all be all for us.
Brothers and sisters, it’s love. It’s God’s love. Paul says that God’s love is not a love that seeks to conquer. God’s love seeks to be with. God’s love seeks to coexist. God’s love seeks to be reconciled with us. This is why we must love God and God’s love first. Because we can love anything. But if we love God and God’s love then we understand that we are to live in a way that seeks companionship not conquest.
Can I get a witness somebody…?
©2016 M. J. Sales