Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. – Romans 8:35
When Malcolm Muggeridge went to Calcutta to film Mother Theresa, he recounts how he was constantly amazed by her presence. There was a special place known as the ‘House of the Dying” where the Mother would frequently come to minister to those who were dying. This old brick kiln was home to the very poorest of the poor from the streets of Calcutta, the lame, the crippled and diseased, and there in the coolness, Mother would hold and bathe each one as they slowly died. She wanted to give them a place of dignity, and as she held each in her arms, she would say she looked at each and saw the face of Jesus.
Muggeridge was trying to film in this building, but there was no electricity or power and they couldn’t get the lighting right no matter how hard they tried. On one of the last days, he was in there again and everything was set, but still the light was not good enough to film. Then, quietly and unassuming, Mother walked in and began to minister to each of those lying there. Muggeridge tells the story of how a mysterious glow followed Mother as she moved from one person to the next, holding each in her arms, bathing them to cool their fever; in a final attempt at filming, they were able to get the only footage of her in the House of the Dying, because of the light that went with her on that day.
The love of God through Christ is the essence of the whole Gospel story, and sometimes I wish we would just bring our entire focus to bear on that. The books of Romans is so rich in this regard yet so simple, where Paul constantly brings everything back to this one thing; we are made righteous with God, because of his love for us through Jesus Christ. In a world that seems to be coming every increasingly dark, surely this love is all that we have. I believe Paul thought that.
This week, for the first time in a while just my wife and I wandered out onto the streets, following a strong call to go out and minister his love to a world devoid of any light. We asked if he would come with us. There we met Val, a woman whose job it was to minister and care for the elderly and the dying, a woman who was struggling to come to terms with what she dealt with every day. We knew we had been called out just for Val, and we sat and ministered Christ to her for an afternoon. It was fabulous.
When you get to the pointy end of life, the question of death is always present and nobody has an answer outside of Jesus Christ. We see it and hear it time and again, we have so many answers to all of our questions in life, apart from the very one that matters, ‘is this all there is?’
Val asked us what we could share, how could she come to terms with so much ‘dying’, death seemed to overwhelm her. She spoke of God, but didn’t know of Jesus, the one who died in our place, so that death doesn’t have to consume us. We were able to introduce him to her, and she listened, we could see the expression; could this be the answer to my seeking?
Jesus is a thing of beauty to behold, and sharing him with others is us doing something beautiful for God. As we were walking home after speaking with Val, we were ourselves overwhelmed at the sheer number of those who don’t know Jesus, or increasingly, have never heard of him. So few of us, so many of them.
We will continue to see Val, we sensed she wanted more – more of us? – not really, she wanted an answer to her life, one that provided a real solution to the problem of life when it ended. Jesus is her answer.
Guess what comes next;
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Make sure you tell someone this week.