I’ll bet when those who want to avoid the judgment of God make up their mental lists of Top Ten Wanted passages of the Bible that Romans 1:17-32 is Public Enemy #1, or close to it.
But, surprisingly, I’m not going to write much about them. Writing about and judging them doesn’t do my soul much good. Let’s see, who does that leave? Being a Bible devotional I write for my own edification, I am compelled to apply Romans 1 to myself first. But I do have another audience. As I write this, there are about 500 of you receiving this today and another number of you who pass this onto others. I hope that many more people will read this in the future.
I’m not letting any of us off the hook, because our job today is to hear what the Lord has to say to us, not to them.
I want to make a few, inarguable points from Romans 1, before I learn what they mean for me. First, in spite of assurances to the contrary from a variety of Christians, God is a wrathful God; that is, He has a righteous anger. Why is He angry? Because He is perfectly righteous, holy, and without sin, and He cannot dwell with sin. Second, this wrath is toward those who are evil and are not holy, breaking God’s commandments. Third, those who act against God have some knowledge of Him. Fourth, this knowledge is clear enough from the Creation so that men are without excuse.
If I were writing to those who continued to suppress the knowledge of God and were in danger of God’s eternal wrath against them, I would have something different to say. But since I presume you to be my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ who have received and accepted the knowledge of God, I have something else to say to you.
I’d like to reverse the orientation. If God’s wrath is revealed against those who have no excuse to acknowledge Him because since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful – what should this mean to us? The opposite. Let me explain.
We, as ones with faith, are to see His invisible attributes by this faith, by which we are justified. From what God has made, we are to understand the Godhead, power, and glory of God. And so I see intimations of the Trinity, the Godhead, in His Creation. Intimations of a mystery, and not ironclad logical proof. Humans are often seen as tripartite: body, mind, and soul, or body, soul, and spirit. Our reality is composed of the trinity of space, matter, and time, while space itself is composed of three dimensions that hold together in one body, and the one creation known as time is at the same time past, present, and future. Even, strangely enough, our political system of checks and balances reminds me of my Trinity. The Father legislates His holy will, which the Son executes, and the Spirit interprets to His people. Maybe I’m chasing phantasms, and maybe I’m not.
I love not just the nano world that God has created but also the yet uncharted pico (trillionth), femto (quadrillionth), atto (quintillionth), zepto (septillionth), and yocto (sextillionth) worlds, not to mention the giga, terra (trillion), peta (quadrillion), exa (quintillion), zetta (sextallion) and yotta (septillion) worlds. No wonder my favorite book growing up was Dr. Seuss’ On Beyond Zebra! I love atoms and quarks and neutron stars, black holes, and quasars, but especially the One who created them.
I love biology, the study of life. If my life had taken a different path I would liked to have been a pioneer in the art and science of theobiology, the study of how God is made known by His creation of life. At least I’ve invented a term so that maybe one of my children will invent this science. Although I can’t say that I love all species of insects (termites, fire ants, and cockroaches [except the giant hissing Madagascar cockroaches] come to mind), I love the God who thought to create a guesstimated 8 million species of them.
I especially love man and all of the thousands of different molecules communicating with each other precisely, and the double helix, and the dense mass of neurons in my cranium, but even more the emotions and thought, the science and the art, the work and the play, the relationships and the families and the cultures and most especially the souls that can laugh and cry and love and worship.
If you find these things mysterious and wonderful as I do, then think of how wonderful and mysterious the One who made them is. What power to create not only the obvious glories like the sun and moon and stars but also to be able to do some of His best non-living art while carving solid rock with nothing but the patient brush of windy years.
What glory to be the one who created not only the blinding sun and the heavens and earth but that most deceptively glorious creation of all, the only one who truly images Him: man! Who among us, from the cavemen to the Einsteins among us, from the Mother Theresas and the Teresa of Avilas to the Voltaires and Richard Dawkinses hasn’t feared at an earthquake, tornado, tsunami, or hurricane; gasped at a lake embedded in a canyon or a scarlet sunset; or wept out of suffering or joy or both in a human relationship?
We know God, and we can’t pretend that we don’t. For those of us who believe, how much of the time do we act as if we know Him? And how can we show that we truly know Him and His power and glory?
Paul suggests that the appropriate response to God is to give Him glory and to thank Him, two things we can summarize by the word “worship.” We were created for God and by God that we might live with Him and worship Him. How else could we possibly respond to Him?
See what you’re missing if you skip Romans 1:18-32? See what you’re missing if you skip any of the words God is speaking to you!
Prayer: I thank Thee, my Creator and Lord, that Thou hast given me these joys in Thy creation, this ecstasy over the works of Thy hands. I have made known the glory of Thy works to men as far as my finite spirit was able to comprehend Thy infinity. If I have said anything wholly unworthy of Thee, or have aspired after my own glory, graciously forgive me. (Johann Kepler)
Point for Meditation:
- What things in God’s creation reveal Him to you? How does each of these things make you feel towards Him?
- How many times during an average day do you give glory to God or thank Him?
Resolution: I resolve to worship God with Romans 1 in mind today. This worship may take the form of prayer, a hymn (“For the Beauty of the Earth,” All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “This is My Father’s World,” etc.) , reading a Morning Prayer service, etc.
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