The Christmas season provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Jesus, specifically what his incarnation communicates about God. The birth of Jesus proclaims, loud and clear, that God loves us and is for us (John 3:16) – and that truth ought to have an immense impact on our approach to life.
An example of this is found in Zechariah’s response to the news about the Son of God coming into the world (Luke 1:67-79). To Zechariah, this news meant that we can now “serve him [God] without fear in holiness and righteousness before him [God] all our days” (Luke 1:74-75).
The apostle Paul believed this also, as indicated in his soaring rhetoric in Romans 8:31-39. That passage inspires us to believe that we can live life confidently, no matter what our circumstances. To amplify the point, Paul structures the passage in a way that roots our confidence in reason rather than emotion; and since our confidence flows from the truth about Christ, our confidence in Christ is not tossed to and fro by the waves of our ever-changing emotions or circumstances. Just look at the structure of Romans 8:31-39…
(A) First question and answer (introductory): if God is for us, who is against us? Answer: [nobody, because] God, having not spared his Son, will now give us all things (vs. 31-32).
(B) Second question and answer (specific focus on God): Who shall bring a charge against us? Answer: [nobody, because] God is the justifier (v. 33).
(C) Third question and answer (specific focus on Christ): Who shall condemn us? Answer: [nobody, because] Christ died, was raised, and now intercedes (v. 34).
(D) Fourth question and answer (specific focus on the link of love between God and those in Christ): Who shall separate us from God’s love? Answer: none of the possible candidates, because as God’s faithful people we are victorious “through the one who loved us” (vs. 35-37).
(E) Final explanation, summing up: nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ (vs. 38-39).
When I presented this in a Bible class not long ago, one person said, “Yeah, why am I so worried about what others think of me?” This response was more of a statement than a question, as he realized that he was allowing fear and anxiety to dictate how he lived his life instead of letting his approach to life be informed by what he believed about Jesus.
Because Jesus came, we can serve God without fear knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now, that’s good news!