Today’s author is Prince of Peace member and a retired ELCA Pastor, Gary Olson.

Photo by Han-Hsing Tu on Unsplash

In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes to the fledgling Christian Church in Rome and by  extension, to us. He writes about all God has done for us in creation, in Christ Jesus,  and in the Holy Spirit. In chapters 5-8, Paul shares the core of his theology. There is  too much to cover in one, two, or three devotional writings but I recommend that you read those chapters sometime soon.  

In the last paragraph of Romans 8, verses 31-39, Paul summarizes what God’s action means for us and for our relationship with God. The words are meant to give us assurance of God’s faithful love. I have used these words many times with people in  distress, addictions, self-loathing, and in my own times of doubt and questioning: 

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is  against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… 

…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.  

Romans 8:31-39

This assurance of God’s love is meant for you, whoever you are, and in whatever circumstance you find yourself. God’s steadfast, faithful love is yours. That love and our need for it draw me to God more than anything else. 

In that context, I share a poem I wrote several years ago called, “Attraction.” 

He attracted the strangest people: ragged 
herdsmen, foreign astrologers—of course,       
we think, who wouldn’t be drawn to a babe—but later:       
homeless beggars and wealthy businessmen,
the lame and blind, a priest or two, a woman       
of the streets, a politician (who came  
at night), the mentally ill, a potential 
anarchist, a teacher, the divorced, 
gay, straight, pretenders tired of 
pretending, children (who receive so well).       
He attracted the strangest, disparate people.       
Love must be the reason; love his center;      
love unlike another; love that burns 
away pretense yet warms you to life— 
that lasts and lasts and lasts . . . and lasts.       
He attracts the strangest people. 
Perhaps I’ll see you there. 

In the Margins, page 133

Dear Lord. Your inclusive love has more breadth and depth than we can imagine.  Thank you!