Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds
Today’s Passage: Romans 5:1-11
Let’s talk about love today. This passage from Romans 5 is about a lot of things, and if I had to say it’s about one single thing, I’m not sure what I’d say. Is it all about reconciliation? Rejoicing in tribulation? Jesus Christ? Yes, it’s about all those things, and probably others besides. But it’s also all about love.
You can divide the passage pretty clearly into two subsections, verses 1-5 about hope in tribulation and verses 6-11 about Christ’s saving death for sinners, and at first I wasn’t clear how Paul went from one to the other. He starts off the second section with the word “for,” so he clearly means for it to explain the first, but I didn’t see the connection. It looked like he was jumping into this “Christ died for the ungodly” theme (6) out of nowhere, as if these two sections were two different outputs from a Random Theology Generator.
But then it dawned on me: it’s love. The pin that holds the two passages together is love.
Paul first mentions love after his tribulation-perseverance-character-hope sequence. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (5), he concludes, citing love as the reason hope can be counted on. Specifically, the Holy Spirit has brought God’s love into our hearts when he himself entered into our lives. That love is the reliable foundation of our hope.
And the reason why Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins? As Paul explains in the second section, it’s the same love. He tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (8). God loved us enough to give the life of his Son for ours, even while we opposed him as his enemies (10). God loved us while we were the most unlovable beings imaginable, not righteous, not even “good” (7). Love is the reason he put on flesh and crucified himself for us in the person of Jesus Christ, and it’s the reason he’s entered our lives as the Holy Spirit.
That’s why our hope has a secure foundation. We’ve been justified through Christ’s sacrifice, and we’ve received the Holy Spirit. If God loved us even when we were at the bottom of the barrel of our own sin, then is there any reason he won’t love us now that we’ve been reconciled to him and have entered into the process of sanctification? We can look to the future with confidence because of where God brought us from and where we are now.
And in spite of my questions and frustrations, in spite of everything that still bothers me, if love really is the pin that holds it all together, then that’s enough for me to go on.