“But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8 (NIV)
My husband and I moved back to Virginia after living for twelve years in sunny, tropical Florida, and one of the significant differences we’ve noticed is the landscape. Even after two years, I’m still struck by the Blue Ridge Mountains when I come into Charlottesville for work. Whether they’re sharp against a clear blue sky, almost hidden by the haze of a hot day, or shrouded in fog, the mountains never bore me; I’m always delighted by them. But I wonder how many friends who have lived at the base of these mountains feel the same awe.
Romans 5:8 is a verse that reminds me of our mountains. For people who have known the Lord for a long time, the truth promised in this verse might feel so natural that we pass right by it, and fail to acknowledge how remarkable, impossible, and staggering this reality is. Christ died for us. Even before we knew Him, even as some perhaps hated Him, God loved us enough to let His son die for us.
It took me a long time and many, many prayers of believing friends before I finally came to know the Lord. I can see now that he was calling me in those years before I finally relented, when I was a decidedly un-loveable, sarcastic mocker of my Christian friends.
But the relief of His forgiveness was short-lived for me. Shame settled onto my shoulders and even though He had already forgiven me, I suddenly had a hard time forgiving myself for who I was before I knew him and for sins I struggled to get free from. Romans 5:8 was a solace to me during this time; it was one of the first verses I learned by heart. It showed me that God’s promise has nothing to do with me or my sins and everything to do with who He is. His redemption is perfect where I fail to be. His forgiveness is unlimited despite the sins I still struggle against. His love is overwhelming even when I’m duplicitous or cruel or snarky.
So I choose to be in awe of the truth of Romans 5:8 even though I’ve known the Lord for more than 13 years. I’m happy to dwell there and shake my head at the impossibility that God loves me that much. And if God could love me when I was so un-loveable, I know he loves me now.
Challenge yourself to make this verse new. What does it mean that while YOU were still a sinner that Christ died for you?
Lord, thank you for loving me so much. Even before I knew you, even before I could hope to live for you, you let your son die for me. I cannot fathom how big that sacrifice was. Let me dwell in that confidence, that I am so precious and valuable to you, and that you are so mighty and loving that you rejoice that I’m yours despite all the ways I don’t deserve it. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.