Several years ago, when I was interning to become a pastor, a family in one of the congregations that I served lost a 14-year-old son in an automobile accident. This passage was read at his funeral:
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. (Romans 8:38-39)
Being completely convinced is not a small feat. There are only a handful of things for which we can say, “I am convinced.” We need evidence to make such strong statement. This makes Paul’s words in Romans 8 even more remarkable because he is not talking about an historical fact or a repeatable scientific result. Paul is talking about love. We have learned not to trust love because personal history has shown us that love is fickle. It comes and goes with the mood and the circumstances of the lover. But not in this case.
Paul is talking about the love that God has for us. God’s love for us is always infinite and unconditional. God’s love for us will never fail us because God will never leave us nor forsake us. God’s love for us is what moved God the Son to wrap Himself in human flesh and become one of us to save us from sin, death and everlasting condemnation. God’s love for us is what moves the Holy Spirit to flip all the switches in our soul from “God Hater” to “God Lover,” from “No Faith” to “Faith,” from “Condemned” to “Saved,” and from “Spiritually Dead” to “Fully Alive.”
The evidence that convinced Paul is of two kinds. Part of what convinced him was subjective evidence, his personal experience of life with Jesus. Jesus carried Paul through controversies, beatings, and imprisonment, and through it all, God used Paul’s gifts, experience and knowledge to convince others that God loves them and they also followed Jesus. But Paul also knew that there was ample objective evidence—information that was open and available to all—that was convincing. For example, Paul knew how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament promises of a Saviour from God. Paul also knew that Jesus’ tomb was empty and that Jesus had appeared to many witnesses after He rose from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus is the proof of God’s faithful love for us. It is because Jesus rose from the dead that Paul can say that nothing, not even death, will separate us from Jesus and His great love for us. Convinced of God’s love, we get to experience the joy of being carried by that love through thick and thin, until the day that Jesus carries us home and faith turns to sight. Then we will know that God’s love never fails.
Dear Jesus, please convince me of the strength and the truth of Your love. Help me to trust in You and Your love in good times and bad. Give me opportunities to share what has convinced me with others in the hope that they might also be convinced. Thank you for Your love! Amen.