We need more “dangerous” Christians today. More believers who live fearlessly and faithfully, though pressures and problems mount against them.
In Romans 8:31-39, Paul writes to Christians who live in a hostile culture that you and I could scarcely imagine. Trouble and persecution are always simmering around them. To encourage them to remain faithful, Paul shares three truths with them that he wants them to grab hold of. Each truth comes packaged in a pair of rhetorical questions.
Paul first asks them this pair of questions: “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?”
It’s a beautiful, even poetic way to convey this truth: God is on my side. I need not fear anything or anyone.
Many Christians have a hard time believing – really believing – that God is for them. Oh, we might say it on Sunday morning. But get out there in the grind of the workweek, and watch things start to fall apart around us, and we begin to grumble. And what’s behind the grumbling? We’re wondering where God is at in our lives. Maybe we think God is absent, or maybe we believe God is too busy to bother with us.
Or maybe we go further yet in our thinking and wonder if God is not even resisting us. “Oh God, why did you do this to me?” we might say. So not only is God not “for” me, but he is actively “against” me.
What a dreadful theology. And a worse way to live.
When I got my spiritual life straightened out my freshman year in college, the first person who turned away from me was my girlfriend. We were very close, and had dated for three years, and even talked about marriage. But she couldn’t comprehend the changes that were happening in me, and she didn’t wish to share them with me. The Lord spoke to my heart, “Son, you need to let her go.” But I couldn’t, and cried out, “Lord, I can’t do it. You gotta help.” I got a phone call the next week from her asking to break up. I almost said, “Wait a minute, you can’t fire me. I quit!” but then stuffed it, and said instead, “Yeah, you’re right.” Because I knew God was at work.
It may seem a small thing, but it was remarkably painful at first, but a great lesson in the end. For in time I learned to say through the difficulty, “God you are on my side. You are for me. You want to give me all things. So I trust you.” I didn’t date for the next two years but focused on my studies and growing in my young faith, and then I met Janis, and 33 years later, I can still say it is a blast having a sister in Christ for a wife.
When you experience a time of testing or trouble and rather than wilt, you choose to say with Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”, and choose to believe that God is ready, willing and able to give you all of himself in that moment, your faith takes a quantum leap forward. You start to become – shall I say it? – even dangerous.
Perhaps the change in your heart can come with you just simply beginning to recite the words, over and over again. (Goodness knows, we recite all the other garbage over and over again.)
So say it: If God is for us, who can be against us? And while you’re at it, say aloud these words from David in Psalm 118:6-8 (which Paul must have been thinking of): “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.”