Lent. Romans 1: Knowing God

In this season of Lent, I’m hoping to not only give some things up, but to make good habits as well.  One of the good habits I’d like to instill is really reflecting and reading scripture.  I’ve been very lax about it lately, so I’m going to go through Romans chapter by chapter and write short reflections/summaries of what I read.

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” Romans 1:25

Background:

Paul’s writing to the non-Jewish people in Rome, whose faith has been so strong that people are talking about them all around the world.  He really wants to come visit them, to encourage, be encouraged, and to speak the gospel to even more Romans, but he hasn’t been able to make it out.

Paraphrased:

We* all know God.  His glory, power, and divine nature are so evident in the world around us–the sunsets, the oceans, the mountains, the stars, and the way the world is so perfectly balanced–in ecosystems, gravitationally, etc.  When you learn how intricately balanced the chemistry of our own body is, it’s incredible and amazing.  And it all points to the fact that someone knew what to do.

But the fact that we know God exists doesn’t mean anything.  In verse 21, it clearly says “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles…and they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”  To exchange it, we must have had it at some point.  We knew God, we saw his glory, we had his truth.  But we didn’t care for it.  We didn’t think that it was worth our while to continue to believe in God or continue to have any sort of relationship with him.  We found our own things to worship, our own things to value, our own things to care about.  How true is that of us today?

And so God, knowing what we wanted, instead of forcing us to come back to himself, back to the truth, back to someone we didn’t want and didn’t care for, he let us go.  He gave us over.  It’s what we wanted all along.

And so we followed our desires, and women slept with women, men slept with men; we envied, murdered, deceived one another.  We gossiped, slandered, boasted, disobeyed our parents.  We were malicious, insolent,arrogant, boastful.  We became senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  And we not only exchanged the truth of God for a lie, but we became GOD-HATERS.  How painful that must be for God…to not only lose relationships that he deems so precious, but then to have those same people not just forget about you–but actively turn on you and hate you!  Can you imagine if that happened to you and a friend?

And all along, we knew that these things were wrong, that these were the very things that God did not want for us, did not hope for us.  We knew that these were the things God warned us about, the things that didn’t reflect his good intent for our lives.  But we continued to not only do them, but to “invent ways of doing evil”, and even “approve of those who practice them”.

Heavy stuff.  And yet–this is exactly the picture of our own culture 2000 years later.  We haven’t changed much.

*We: I purposely chose to use this pronoun, as we as human beings have all sinned, myself included.  I look at the list above and know that I am guilty of envy, deceit, lying, slandering, gossiping, boasting, disobeying my parents, etc.  Heavy indeed.  But just hold on for the other chapters–things get better.

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2 thoughts on “Lent. Romans 1: Knowing God

  1. Alex Haiken says:

    Nearly every person who acknowledges an aversion to homosexuality does so on the basis of what he or she believes the Bible has to say. In their mind, there is no doubt whatsoever about what the Bible says and what the Bible means. Their general argument goes something like this: Homosexuality is an abomination and the homosexual is a sinner. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture we too must condemn homosexuality. This premise is being widely debated among evangelicals today and seriously challenged by biblical scholars, theologians and religious leaders everywhere.

    It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. Throughout church history most Christians who have used the Bible to condemn other Christians believed they were acting in good faith. However, history has revealed that what many were defending was their presumption of what the Bible teaches, not the truth of Scripture.

    Since I happen to speak and write on this very topic, I thought you might find some of these posts of particular interest. I would particularly recommend to you the following: “Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?”, “Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch” and “Why No One in the Biblical World Had a Word for Homosexuality.” You can find links to these and others on the “Archives” page (link below).

    -Alex Haiken
    http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com

    • j says:

      Thank you for your response. I too, try not to bring my own perceptions into my readings of the Bible (hard as it may be!). And I also believe that regardless of our orientations, we’re all sinners (as we see later in Romans). I agree that homosexuality is definitely a contentious issue today in the Christian community, and I appreciate discussions that bring up new ideas and insights, and lead me to study God’s word all the more.

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