Day three in the Good Book Club study of Romans. These verses have me thinking about idolatry and God’s “wrath.”
Paul started Romans with his greeting, transitioned to thanksgiving and then stated his “thesis” relating to the saving action of faith in Jesus Christ. Paul now enters some difficult territory. The talk about God’s “wrath” and the sin of humanity is not a favorite topic for most. We really don’t want to talk about it. We’re all too ready to ignore those things that separate us from God’s love and righteousness because naming them sheds light on darkness. When we can actually see our sin we often feel compelled to do something about it, and that can be hard.
God meets us where we are and loves us, but that doesn’t mean God wants us to stay in a place of darkness. God’s love wants to save us from sin, but this same love allows humanity to choose. And we often choose something other than the “good.” There are consequences in our lives for our actions. God allows the moral order to progress. William Barclay says that “moral order is the wrath of God at work.”
Paul writes about idolatry in verse 23. It’s said that idolatry is the root of all sin. We all must worship something and we are all too ready to exchange the living God for all of the little gods of this world. We worship, beauty, money, youth, drugs, ourselves and the list goes on. There are times when even very good things become idolatrous when they take the place of the living God in the top spot in our lives. We exchange the best for the good. And anything but the best leads us on a path of dis-ease. It is a path of destruction because anything but he living God will leave us searching and can never save us.
But let’s not forget the thesis Paul outlined in verses 16 and 17. He fleshes this out as we read on. He expands on the Good News as “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”