There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Recently, I had the privilege of reading that singular sentence from the New Testament aloud in a room full of men who are struggling to put their lives back together. I was immediately reminded what a difference context makes in the hearing of scripture. When you've been down and out, have made a mess of things, or have had your life turned inside-out by the messy living of others, you simply recognize good news when you hear it. In these contexts, there is little interest in interpretation and counter-interpretation, no desire for point and counterpoint, no time for a "hermeneutic of suspicion." Good news simply reverberates within lives that are ready to hear it.
And these thirteen words from the 8th chapter of Romans do indeed combine to offer good news. The whole chapter moves along these lines: The death of Jesus has covered over all that deadliness that lurks around the edges of our lives. The new life of Jesus replaces fear with gladness as an engine for getting up in the morning and doing good. That Jesus is a brother, sharing our flesh, his status sequesters all condemnation and changes the sign over our door from "sinner" to "child of God." I appreciate the Message interpretation with Romans 8:1 -- "With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved."
Imagine the worst thing you have ever done.
Or imagine the worst matter ever done unto you.
Now imagine said action having no more power of your life.
These days, many are arguing that it is time for the church to move on from the personal salvation themes that defined the Protestant Reformation. I tend to agree. The gospel is more about "we" than "me," and more about a world that God loves than a church that hopes to survive. Even so, standing in a room full of struggling saints, I was reminded how much there is still a place for that first-person singular gospel song: It is okay now between you and God. Really, it is.
That's good news. Does it reverberate within your life?