By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered 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, 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 8:31-39 (NIV)
In South Carolina, the people called Methodist have been seeking a more excellent way for over a decade. God has blessed us over these years, and we are grateful recipients of God’s abundant grace and mercy. Even as the toxicity of our polarization seeks to overwhelm us, I am confident that the Lord has more for us.
Paul is convinced, and so, too, should we be, that neither the present nor the future will overcome us. In all these things, we are more than conquerors.
Through Christ, we can do and be so much more than what the world would lead us to believe.
Through Christ, we can find courage and confidence. My friends, I believe God is still calling us to dream big dreams. God is calling us to even more grand visions. God is calling on us in South Carolina to trust him and believe.
If in fact God is for us, then there is nothing that can stand against us.
God is standing up for you and me. What gets in our way is our unwillingness to follow the way. Often, we make idols of things in our lives, even idols of the church itself, and this steers us astray.
However, we must prioritize making space for God to work in our own hearts, minds and souls. Making space doesn’t mean being empty, but we need to get rid of all the stuff that’s in the way so God can work. We’ve got to put God first in our thoughts, in our decisions and in our lives. Jesus intercedes for us. The hard work is already done.
We only need to make space for God to work, to reveal to us how we can get in on one more thing for the sake of Christ.
Hope in God is sturdy and secure. Rev. Charles Spurgeon described it this way, namely, “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.”
Together over this last decade, we have faced natural disasters, violence, racism, pandemic, economic hardships, civil divisiveness, uncertainty and more. But in spite of all the circumstances of despair, we have leaned with hope on the promise that God is for us. We can’t forget what God has already done for us.
God is moving and God has moved us. God is moving us now. He’s moving each one of us into a new season, and God is indeed in this place, doing a new thing, reminding us and expecting us to be grateful for all that God has been doing for us.
God has blessed us in the past yet, God doesn’t want us to become stuck. Stuck in what was; stuck in the glory of what used to be; stuck in the memory of how things were; stuck in all that we felt comfortable in being.
Having the God-sized dream of a better future, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized the power of faith, namely, “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
And friends, there is still more hewing to be done. I am confident that the Lord has more for us than we can imagine for ourselves.
So many times we can’t even open our hearts and minds to receive the new things from God. The new things, the new experiences, the new glory will be like nothing that you have ever seen before. It’s because we’re not sure what it’s going to look like – we haven’t experienced it before. We’re going into this uncharted territory. It is scary. Our church is at a crossroads, and it is scary. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.
But guess what? That’s the opportunity. If in fact God is for us, then there is nothing that can stand against us.
My friends, we are more than conquerors. God promises us this. Even in the difficult times, God says, “I will be with you. You can count on this.”