At a time when so many of us in the English-speaking, COVID-19-stricken world are also mourning the recent deaths of heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. Dr. C.T Vivian, both of whom were leaders, through it all, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I commend the consolation in Paul’s letter to the church under persecution in Rome.
First, in Romans 8: 28, Paul tells the Christians who are faithful in behavior as well as belief: “We know that all things work together for good, for those who love God, and who are called according to his purpose.”
Only our Creator God, who defines the “good,” knows the critical details of whether, what, when, or how. But the ends have been foretold throughout the prophetic ages, as recounted in our Bibles and never so clearly or so eloquently as in the Book of Job and seeks in the Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ.
Second, in verse 31b, Paul goes on to assure the Christian community in Rome by asking rhetorically, “If God is for us, who is against us?”
The obvious answer is not the Divinity, who has ordered our Salvation via the gift of Jesus Christ. Rather, any opposition must be, by definition, those who dare oppose the Divinity – that is to say, those who oppose Jesus’s Way of Love. Third, Paul asks, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” And then he provides the answer:
“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If we all do our work of ministry — heeding the love-borne gift of modern science — in God’s will, manner, time and way, COVID-19 will be overcome, as the Great Apostle Paul foresaw.
— The Rev. Dr. Wesley S. Williams Jr., K.St.J., is Priest Scholar and Chaplain at Washington National Cathedral and previously was Bishop’s Dean and Sub-Dean and Priest in Charge in congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands (U.S. and U.K.)