Separation can be a very frightening thing. I once remember being separated from one of our daughters in Marks and Spencer in Oxford Street when she was barely walking. It was such a distressing moment seeing the open doors onto that road, which was teeming with people and cars. The relief flooded in when we saw her with an assistant and they were making their way towards us.
Separation from loved ones is always traumatic, whether that is in a time of crisis like a war or as we have now experienced in some measure in ‘Lockdown’. Separation is hard on every level for relational human beings and it was hugely and immeasurably more so, I’m sure, for God and Jesus when they were separated as He died for our sins at Calvary.
God has always had to separate Himself from sin. ‘He is so Holy, he cannot look on sin, it would be like some dry hay in the face of a forest fire. We know that every time someone encounters a theophany they recognise their sinfulness and find it overwhelming, even expecting to die like Gideon. Judges 6:22,23.
In Isaiah 59:1,2 God tells His people that their wickedness has separated them from Him . It’s not what He wants, but no one except the totally pure and Holy can stand in His presence. So God in His love separates Himself until atonement is made. The whole sacrificial system was set up for the Jews because God loved them, sinful as they were, and so He was providing them with a way to remove the sin that separated them from Him, so that relationship could continue.
God hates separation, and decided to do what He needed to do in order that there should be no more separation necessary between us and Him. He wanted there to be a clear route out of separation for any who want it. The mindblowing thing is that the cost of this was His own separation from His beloved Son at His moment of greatest agony. This separation was physical, mental and spiritual, so complete that Jesus felt totally forsaken, crying out from the cross so all could hear ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
The wonderful thing is that for us, who live this side of Calvary, and because we have accepted that Jesus has paid the price for our sins and that we now have His righteousness, the separation is over. In Romans 8:35-39 Paul starts with a question, “Who shall ever separate us from the love of Christ?” And, after listing all the possible things that might be powerful enough to do just that, he ends with a definitive “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Today let us meditate on this amazing truth that ‘nothing, nothing, nothing in all creation will be able to ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’. We are the right side of the cross. Jesus was separated from His Father for you and me , He took the ‘fall’ for us, so that we will never have to face separation from the love of God.
There is one thing about God’s love that we do need to understand however. Because it’s not a physical entity it can’t be withdrawn or cut off by anyone but the giver, God Himself. We however can shut ourselves off from feeling, knowing or sensing that love. We can put up our shutters by harbouring doubt and unbelief, often when we feel that God hasn’t done something the way we think that He should.
If we can keep reminding ourselves and thanking Jesus that He took that separation from the Father for us, then our gratitude will help us to go through difficult times without putting up the shutters. We will then continue to experience His love in all our circumstances, no matter what comes our way, as Paul himself did before us.