April 23, 2020 • Life for Leaders
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
Romans 8:31-32 (NRSV)
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
This is the next installment in our series: “Easter and COVID-19.” For the past several days I have been considering the question: How does the resurrection of Jesus matter as we face the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis? You can find the previous devotions in this series here.
I love superheroes. I admit it without shame. I grew up watching Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man on TV. In recent years, I’ve happily added others to the pantheon of my beloved heroes.
One of my favorite scenes from a superhero movie comes from the 2017 film Wonder Woman, which is set during World War I. Diana Prince, a.k.a Wonder Woman, has joined a group of Allied fighters in Belgium as they face the German army. They are in a stalemate because nobody can cross the “No Man’s Land” of destruction that separates the Allies from the Germans.
Diana has not yet revealed who she truly is as her fellow fighters convince her there is no way to prevail against the Germans. But Diana, filled with conviction about the rightness of the Allied cause, decides it’s time to fight. She reveals herself as Wonder Woman, running toward the German front as she blocks dozens of bullets and other weaponry. At first, her associates are perplexed. But then, inspired by Diana, they follow her lead, boldly fighting against the Germans. With Wonder Woman on their side, who could be against them?
The Apostle Paul, though without the benefit of this inspiring scene from Wonder Woman, makes a similar point in Romans 8—but this time about God. Though he has acknowledged the groaning of the fallen creation, the broken world in which we live, Paul is not afraid of the opposition we face in life. “What then are we to say about these things?” he asks. “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31). A few verses later he’ll mention many things that attempt to oppose us: hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword (Romans 8:35). We might add: the novel coronavirus, poverty, atheistic secularism, racism, human trafficking, structural injustice, depression, economic insecurity, materialism, and so forth. Yet, if God is truly on our side, then none of these things can oppose us effectively. They might prevail for the moment, but God will ultimately be victorious. And God is “for us” (Romans 8:31). Or, as we read in The Message, “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?”
How do we know that this is true? Paul points to the fact that God “did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us” (Romans 8:32). This is a clear reference to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The resurrection appears a couple of verses later: “It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34). So, the death and resurrection of Jesus prove God’s choice to be “for us,” to be on our side.
That God is for us is surely one of the most encouraging truths we can imagine. But the idea that God is at work for us doesn’t mean we simply sit around and watch. Rather, like the soldiers fighting with Wonder Woman, the fact of God being on our side energizes us and calls us into battle. In 1 Corinthians 15, after proclaiming the victory of God over sin and death through Jesus Christ, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the word of the Lord” (15:58). Because God is for us, we know that our labors in this life are not in vain. Whether you’re a nurse caring for COVID-19 patients in the hospital, or a dad learning how to homeschool your children, or a boss trying to keep your people employed, or a teacher using online education for the first time, or a pastor caring for your people digitally, or a check-out clerk in the market, or you name it, the work you do matters. And if you feel discouraged, as is so easy to do these days, remember that God is on your side.
Something to Think About:
Can you think of a time in your life when someone was on your side and that made a big difference to you?
Do you live as if God is “for you”? If so, what difference does this make? If not, why not?
Something to Do:
Take some time to reflect on the question: If God is really for me, how might I live differently today? As you come up with ideas, implement at least one of them.
Thank you for being on our side. Thank you for demonstrating that you are “for us” through Jesus Christ, supremely through his death and resurrection.
Lord, may I live with the confidence that you are “for me.” May all that I do reflect this foundational truth. And, may I live for you and your purposes in everything. To you be all the glory! Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. A reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: Should We Act Like Superheroes?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.