Like a charge of victory, a rallying cry of the elect, Paul exclaims, “For I am sure 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” (Rom. 8:38-39). Nothing temporal nor spiritual, nothing today or forever, nothing in or out of time and space, no one or nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ. It is a statement of truth both exhilarating and comforting, celebratory and assuring.
Like Abraham, there is nothing in us or anything that we have done that would persuade God to bestow his saving grace upon us, but he has. It is only by his grace through faith in Christ that “we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). And as God’s children, the life we live in the here and now we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal. 2:20). As sojourners and exiles we are faithful to preach this good news to ourselves and share it with others near and far, not living as those who have no hope, knowing like Abraham that by faith “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). Though “here we have no lasting city,” by faith “we seek the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).
The Great Commission then is only understood in the context of the church, for it is the church who mobilizes missions, making disciples, administering the sacraments, teaching the Word, and enjoying Christ’s on-going presence in our very existence. Therefore, do not heed those who would lead you to see the lost as your adversary, and do not run from the Great Commission by retreating into your holy huddle. Through the church we are to live out the Great Commission. The world is before us, so let us be going, making, sealing, and teaching, as we are ultimately one body worshiping one Lord who is with us always, to the end of the age.
In other words, maintaining peace in the local church is not a cause to fight for but an act of worshipful service to our Triune God. As we live out our faith in Christ in the local church “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is revealed.