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Message for 3-30-14 GOD IS HYPER ABOUT US

“GOD IS HYPER ABOUT US”

Romans 8:18, 28-39

 

            “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  “Who (or what) shall separate us from the love of Christ?”  What wonderful questions!  What wonderful answers: No one and nothing!  God’s bottom line is: if Jesus Christ has taken away our sin, then nothing can stand in the way between us and God.

            The only barrier that has ever stood between us is sin.  And Paul has taken almost 8 chapters of this letter to explain how God has completely dismantled and removed that barrier of sin through the cross of Jesus Christ.

            Paul asks, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s chosen ones?”  Who’s got the legal ammunition that can wrench us away from God and cast us into the pit of hell?  God is the One who declares us not guilty.  Who’s the innocent party who has the legal standing to point the accusing finger at us?  Only Jesus Christ, and He’s the One who died to put us right with God, who rose from the dead to clear our way to God, and who at this moment continues to plead for us at the throne of God.  He’s gonna accuse us??

In the person of Jesus Christ, God has suffered all the pain of hell in our place, so that God can embrace us as beloved children, so that we may be reconciled and reunited with the One who loves us more than words can say.

            What else can stand in the way between God and God’s children?  Can some evil power drive a wedge between us, or steal us away from the arms of God?  Is there anyone powerful enough to out-wrestle God for our souls?  Is there some Incredible Hulk out there who’s gonna step in and say, “Get lost, buster!  He’s mine!  She’s mine!”?  Is there some future event in our lives, some scandal, some horrible mistake, that’s going to tear us away from God?  Can any death we could die turn God against us?

Can altitude or geography separate us from God?  Is there a windswept peak, or some dark ocean trench, that is literally God-forsaken?  Is there any planet in space where we can say that we are no longer in God’s grasp?  King David asks in Psalm 139, “Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there!  If I make my bed in the grave, You are there!  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

All that’s left that can possibly alienate us from God is the bitter circumstances of life, and what they may do to us from within.  Pressure, anxiety, harassment, starvation, not having a thread to wear, danger, lethal weapons pointed straight at us – none of these can stand between God and us, but they all have the potential to erect huge barriers in our hearts toward God, to turn us away from God.  Only an inside job can do that.

In verse 28, Paul gives us that famous line: “We know that all things work together (literally “synergize”) for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose.”   Paul never says that all that happens to us is good.  Much of what happens to us in this life is undeniably evil, and no one should pretend otherwise. 

The Bible says to rejoice, not FOR all things, but IN all things.  The Bible does NOT tell us to rejoice over pain.  That’s masochism.  What we ARE called to do is to rejoice in the God who is bigger than our pain, and who has never left our side.

Paul never promises that God will work everything out to an earthly happy ending.  That’s not reality.  That’s not true-to-life.  Nor should we expect happy endings down here in this world that is shot through with the curse of our first ancestors’ sin.  But the glorious truth about God is that God transforms undeniable evil into undeniable good.

All that happens to us in this life is part of a great tug-of-war between good and evil.  We are bound to get caught as casualties in the crossfire.  But even the worst of what happens to us is charged with spiritual significance.  Life is not a series of meaningless accidents.  God is at work, using even our mistakes, our sins, our pain, and our misfortunes to prepare us for a future glory that far outweighs it all, and using them to bring other people with us when they see how God helps us through our heartaches.

All that happens to us in life, serves God’s purpose together, not as incidents in isolation.  Rick Warren uses the image of baking a cake.  Taste the ingredients in isolation: flour, raw eggs, oil, cacao powder – all of them yucky or bitter, even if you add in some salt and sugar.  But bake them all together, and the results taste very different!

Also, keep in mind, Romans 8:28 is a promise only to God’s children.  One could say that all things are likely to work together for bad for those who are at war with God and refuse to let God have God’s way in their lives.

How could God possibly bring good out of a broken neck that turned a teenager into a quadriplegic?  Ask Joni Eareckson Tada.  God has used Joni to proclaim the Good News of Christ to tens of millions, particularly those who have suffered crippling misfortune and heartache.  Joni says, “When life is rosy, it’s easy to slide by knowing about Jesus… But only in suffering will we know Jesus.”

How could God bring anything good out of 9/11?  Try freedom for 40 million people who lived under tyranny in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Or just think – 30 years ago, who would have imagined that the same generation who once called police officers “pigs” would lift them up as heroes?  9/11 was horrible, unthinkable, and despicable, but no one can calculate the love that was poured out as a result of what happened that day.  No one can count the hearts that were changed for the good by what happened that day.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”  The word Paul uses to mean “for” us is the word “hyper”.  Here it means “in our place”.  It also means “over the top” (which is what we mean when we say “hyper-active” or “hyper-sensitive.”  When I took a quick look at this passage, I found the word “hyper” 4 times.  Verse 31 – “If God is hyper us” (if God going to bat for us in our place), “who can be against us?”  Verse 32 – God “gave up his Son hyper us” (in our exchange).  Verse 34 – Christ is at the right hand of God, “pleading hyper us” (on our behalf). 

All these meanings would come to mind for Paul’s audience when they heard the word “hyper” used to describe God’s attitude toward us.  God is hyper about us!  That doesn’t mean that God’s whole being revolves around us, as if God existed just for us.  It does mean that God is on our side, that God has gone over the top for us.  It does mean that God has gone to bat in our place, that he has suffered the pain of hell so that we would never have to do so.  It does mean that God is pulling for us when we’re down.  It does mean that God is our greatest fan.  God’s love goes “over the top” for us!

The last time the word hyper is used is in verse 37, as part of a compound verb.  It says that in all the worst that can happen to us, we are “hyper-conquerors” through the One who loved us (Christ).  We are “more than conquerors”.  We are far more than winners!  We may not feel like it, when life comes crashing in on us.  We feel like we’re just barely surviving.  That’s why Paul needs to remind us otherwise.  That’s why Paul needs to put our suffering into perspective for us.  God’s love makes us “hyper-conquerors!”  We are more than winners!  We’ve got a God who is hyper-us, who is on our side!  Don’t let life’s frustration lead you to throw away your victory crown!  

Paul says that nothing in all creation can separate us or “put space” between us and the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  If God loved us so much as to take our place in hell, what further proof do we need that God is absolutely crazy about us?  God is for us!  God’s love has gone “over the tip” for us!  And no one can drive a wedge between us!

Friends, don’t LET anything in your heart stand in the way between you and God.  Don’t let bitterness over past or present stand in your way.  Don’t let people stand in your way.  Don’t let idols stand in your way – anything you love more than God.  If you place your faith in Jesus and what He has done for us, nothing can ever come between you and God again.

Let us pray.  Lord, we are blown away by such love that goes over the top for us, that lets nothing stand in its way.  We praise You for the joy we find in Your love, to know that You are our greatest fan!  Help us to let nothing in our hearts deprive us of the joy of knowing You, the knowledge that we are Yours forever.  We ask for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

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