Day 13: Romans 1:16-25
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Romans 1:16-25 (NRSV)
One of the greatest challenges and questions posed to people of faith is the question of theodicy: “If God is good, why does he allow bad things to happen?” Now, there are two types of "bad things”that we usually think about: those that are brought about directly resulting from human decisions and those that happen as a result of natural disasters or accidents. The line between the two is often blurred, but Paul here addresses the situation of a world that has been directly affected by compounded human decisions. He describes a very scary world: a world in which God is not in control. Paul tells us that "God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
The line “God gave them up” is one of the most heartbreaking lines in the Bible. In Paul’s writing, God is not the author of evil; we are. As I listen to people talk about evil in the world these days, I often hear people say things like, “If God wills it, it will happen.” The story of the New Testament, however, is a story of human will being imposed on the creator, not the other way around. God came to us, and we crucified him. We were and are the ones who exchange the truth of God for a lie. We choose to worship created things rather than the Creator. The human story is a heartbreaking story. A story that breaks the heart of God. In this story, God’s wrath may not simply be the result of his anger, as Jonathan Edwards so famously penned. God’s wrath may simply look like consequences for evil that we have brought upon ourselves.
I pray that we will have the courage to repent from that which is ours to own in a world that continues to worship things created, rather than the Creator.
Jonathan Burkey, Pastor of Worship Arts