I missed posting last week because i was in a wedding, and i nearly missed posting this week because John and i are on vacation together in New Hampshire to see an Ingrid Michaelson concert and to actually spend time together where we're not lesson planning or decorating a church for a wedding or sleeping.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Got that? Nothing. We can decide of our own volition to walk away from God, but no outside thing can come between us.
This is a long one, so let's just highlight the key verses (for me) and you can read the rest on your own.
vs. 16 -- So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
Mercy is entirely up to God. It's not up to you, or to me, or to your minister, or to your mom. That is simultaneously terrifying and freeing to me: no one else gets to dictate the terms of my salvation, but there's also not a lot i can do about it but surrender.
vs. 30-32 -- What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
Your connections, your heritage, your background, your history, your family, your checklist of right and wrong: none of it is enough. It will never be possible for you to do enough to be saved. It requires faith.
Romans 12:9, 18
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. . . . If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves one another has fulfilled the law.
14:10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.
So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
I think all of that pretty much speaks for itself.