Romans 8: 26-39 “If God is for us, who is against us?”
At the end of April, 1965, I drove from Parris Island, South Carolina to Santa Ana, California. The first leg of my trip crossed South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, going right through Selma, Alabama. I don’t remember if I went through downtown Selma, across the Pettus Bridge, but it’s quite likely.
It was six weeks after the confrontation at the Pettus Bridge. Six weeks since John Lewis had been beaten crossing that bridge. I wasn’t all that aware of the world outside my doors, but I knew enough to know that white women with Yankee accents weren’t welcome in Alabama. it was less than a month since Viola Liuzzo had been murdered in Selma.
I scrupulously followed the speed limits and drove through town with the windows rolled up and no stopping allowed. I did not feel safe until I got to Vicksburg that evening.
On Monday, I watched the arrival of John Lewis’ body to lie in state in the Rotunda of the US Capitol. And I cried. There was a time when we all lived in fear, Blacks most of all, in the South. We still fear, but not like then. John Lewis believed that change would happen. And it did.
No one claims we’ve gotten to the Promised Land on racial issues. But, oh my, the changes. St. Paul wrote in Romans 8, “if God is for us, who is against us?” The “us” is the cause of equality and fairness. The “us” is Black people who have been beaten, reviled, killed, ignored. The “us” is all of us who live in a system that makes it all seem normal.
If God wants us to live as a people without dividing walls, who can stop us? Not bullying or beating, not fire or noose, not systematic brutality or deficient education, not the habits of the ages, not the casual acceptance of the way it’s always been.
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?
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For 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.