Sometimes being a parent causes you to backpedal like crazy! I have moments with my daughters where I start to scold them for something they forgot to do. In those moments, my daughters will sometimes remind me that I didn’t tell them anything in the first place. When they correct my forgetfulness, I backpedal like crazy, apologizing for what I didn’t say.
Paul describes God as the persistent Father
When we look at Romans chapter one, we see God painting a picture of a persistent father. Paul is writing about a world God created as a relentlessly communicative father. Paul describes a father who doesn’t have to backpedal because He has forgotten to remind us.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 1:20.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ps 19:1–4.
So in Romans chapter one Paul describes a world where God has made himself explicitly clear. To everyone who cares to pay attention, God has revealed himself. Whether you look at the constellations in the sky or the trees around you, you can see nature pointing to something greater than itself.
We give glory to the wrong thing.
And see, that’s the problem; people sometimes don’t pay attention to what God displays. And sometimes, instead of giving glory to God or thanks, they honor those things God created.
It’s like walking up to the Mona Lisa painting and complementing the image on how well it created itself. The Mona Lisa painting is just oils and canvas created by a genius. In the same way, when we look around the world, we should ask who made a world like this instead of worshiping the globe. And Paul says that’s what the people of his time (and ours) are forgetting.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 1:21–23.
So what is glory?
We don’t grasp this concept as a culture. In the Hebrew world, the word glory meant “weight.” If something was full of glory, it was a heavyweight. It was gold; it was silver. It was fat, wealthy people. Obesity, through much of history, indicated wealth/glory/importance.
That which receives glory is that which you give the most weight to. That which has the most significant sway in your life is what you are giving glory to.
If your boss’s opinion matters more than anyone, then you give them glory.
If your spouse’s opinion matters more than anyone, you are giving them glory.
If preserving and earning money matters more than anything, you give money glory. (We all know what the Bible says about the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10)
So Paul wants us to see that the sin of humanity is that we are exchanging the immeasurable glory of God for material things that we see around us. God’s worthy of glory because he’s powerful and eternal. Animals, stars in the sky, trees, creepy crawly things, money, and people are all unworthy of the same level of weight that God is worthy of.
Paul’s argument in Romans chapter one is that creation points to a marvelous creative God. And ever since the beginning of creation, God has been revealing Himself to humanity. And He has given humankind the capacity to understand him. And in rejecting the reality of a God worthy of glory, humanity becomes fools.
The end of chapter one of Romans is about the consequences of humanity rejecting the glory of God. When we abandon God’s glory, God leaves us to our sin. To quote an uknown author, “The consequence of sin is often sin.”
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 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.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 1:24–32.
The reality is that when people act like they don’t know God, they move to worship something else. God made us to worship and give glory to something or someone. When we worship inanimate objects, those objects cannot declare how we should live. When we worship things or ourselves, the result always is sin. When we worship God, righteousness is a result.
My point in sharing the passage I copied above is not to write a blog about any of the topics mentioned therein. My point, just like Paul made it is to hold up a mirror showing the results of sin. Paul is clear and concise in showing the results of God giving people over to their sin.
Paul wants us to see that God constantly reveals himself to us like a faithful and persistent parent. If we pay attention, he will tell us the truth about this world and ourselves. If we reject God’s truth and give glory to unworthy things, our lives will degrade into sin. No matter how we spin it, sin is still devastating, painful, and destructive.
Let’s pay attention to the messages God pours out to us in the creation and his word.