When I learned that Hidenwood’s Vacation Bible School would be based on the book of Romans, I was a little worried. Reading Romans in VBS is a little bit like reading War and Peace to your kids as a bedtime story! It’s a heavy, theological book – there are plenty of big words and no pictures in the book of Romans! How will we ever relate the book of Romans to a bunch of young children?
But, here we are on the other side of VBS now and I’m happy to announce that we learned a lot of important things about God, focusing on just one verse each day! We learned that God’s love is a free gift – something you can’t earn because it’s given freely. We learned that God’s love transforms us – not just the things you do but the way you think. And we learned that nothing in all creation is able to separate us from God’s love.
My job last week was to lead recreation. Using games and play each day, we explored what it was like in Rome to be an athlete, a child, a charioteer, a firefighter, and an army soldier. And these games gave us some interesting insights into life in Rome, two thousand years ago:
- Did you know that children in Rome played many of the same games we play today – jump rope, hopscotch, tag, kites? One of the games unique to them was called knucklebones... it’s a game where you throw the knucklebones of animals into a pot or onto a circle marked on the ground (we used clothes pins). Clearly, families didn’t have money to spend on expensive toys so children used whatever they had for play.
- Did you know that chariot racing was the most popular sport in Rome? Most charioteers were slaves who wanted to buy their freedom so they would wind the reigns around their bodies when they raced – which was dangerous because if they fell out they were dragged and sometimes trampled by passing horses.
- Did you know that fires were quite common in Rome because people lived in apartments and their floors (and roofs) were made of wood? The firefighters didn’t have a fire truck or fire hydrants so they brought buckets and formed a brigade using fountain water to put out the flames.
- And did you know that Roman soldiers carried a pack weighing 60-90 pounds? It was so heavy, that soldiers would often force unsuspecting citizens to carry their pack for them.
This is interesting trivia, but the reason for learning it was to learn just how tough life was in Roman times. Life was not easy, and people often felt like life was ganging up against them... hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, sword.
Enter Paul – he was like a breath of fresh air to the people of Rome because he brought the good news of the gospel! He reminded them that not everything in life was ganging up against them... God was on their side, and God loved them more than they could ever imagine! The proof of this was that God sent his Son, Jesus, to die for us and secure our salvation. And here’s the good news - it’s a free gift – you don’t have to earn it, you just have to accept it.
So, in today’s passage, Paul reminds us that we’re already winners – God is with us. And “if God is for us, who can stand against us?’ There is no roadblock big enough to stand in the way of God... not death, not life, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Remember that when it seems life is stacked against you. You are already a winner. You’ve won the biggest prize of all – salvation through Jesus Christ. And if God loves you that much, to give you his only Son Jesus, what’s he going to withhold from you that you need? Nothing!
God’s love is in your corner – so stand tall, be brave, and live confidently in the love of God....