Lesson 8: April 23, 2017
Teaching Strategy: Lead a creative writing exercise. If Jesus were to send you (us) a note of encouragement today based on this scripture, what would he say? Who or what threatens to separate you from the love of God in Christ? What hardships, or distress, or separation(s) put your relationship to God at risk? How might Jesus (or Paul) reassure and convince you that nothing can separate you from God’s love? In what ways are you called to live differently because of God’s love?
Paul’s words in the Letter to the Romans remind us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Through his death we have been reconciled to God. God’s love is so great that God gave up his only Son for us – and so great that absolutely nothing will be able to separate us from that love.
All of us have experienced various forms of distress and hardship. We face challenges in our personal lives, in our communities, in our nation, and in the world. We may find ourselves in despair, angry, anxious, or afraid. We may ask “how could this be?” and “where is God”? The good news in this scripture is that God is present and nothing – no difficulty we face – can separate us from the love of God in Christ. When we are convinced of this truth, then we ask the question “where is God” in a different way. Assured of God’s unconditional love, we look with the eyes of faith to see where and how God is working even in the midst of our darkest times. We pray God will give us wisdom and strength to face every challenge.
The links below take you to stories of hardship that are personal, national, and/or global. What is it that is most distressing in your life, church, or community? How do the promise and power of God’s reconciling love help you to face these difficulties?
- This week a CBS MoneyWatch report, The United States of Insecurity, describes the stress of economic instability in a changing labor market.
- A recent New York Times article (January 6, 2017) describes the opioid epidemic through the painful stories of individuals “from cities on the West Coast to bedroom communities in the Northeast.”
- The status of people of faith – and the hardships they face – varies considerably around the world. This month the Pew Research Center released its latest annual study on Religious Restrictions in the 25 most populous countries, noting that “government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion increased in 2015 for the first time in three years.”
- There are strong feelings – for and against – the U.S. bombing of a Syrian base in response to a chemical weapon attack against the Syrian people. Either way, the situation is distressing and increases worldwide anxiety about the Middle East. Listen to this NCC podcast, Holy Week, Syria, and Christian Ethics, for a thoughtful discussion and particularly Christian perspective.