29 January 2014

Romans 1:18-32

“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.” (v. 20)


Paul starts to spell out the implications of God's gospel (good news of Christ). The implicit question Paul is trying to answer is this: What are the outcomes when the holy God freely and gladly fills the heart of Jesus with divine life, to put right human relationships with God?

First, the gospel exposes the darkness and wickedness of human existence with unparalleled clarity. In its light there seems to be no limit to human depravity and immorality (verses 26-31). The holy God must show passionate anger when human wellbeing is destroyed by every wicked thing we do or with which we collude (verse 18).

Second, the gospel unveils a story about the causes of human wickedness. God's creative love establishes human beings with a life of their own and the freedom to make significant spiritual and moral choices. In order to flourish, we must choose to make our way through the world in partnership with the invisible God, supported and guided by God's love and care. God is within us and close to us in every circumstance of life. God can be discerned in and through everything and everyone in God's creation.

We humans, however, are besotted with what we can see and touch, hear, taste and smell. We are spiritually lazy and refuse to seek for God's presence through and beyond our sensory experience. Some consequences follow:

  • We exalt things of our own making to be as fascinating as living creatures in the natural world.
  • The intuition to adore what is beautiful inspires us to worship people, natural objects and things we have made - but not to worship God ('idolatry'). We cut ourselves off from God.
  • The powerful desires in our hearts, no longer disciplined and influenced by God's love, go crazy. We are irresistibly drawn into a cesspit of death-dealing behaviour (even if our heads tell us what the consequences will be).

But that is not the full story! Read on.

To Ponder

  • Spotting signs of God's amazing grace in the face of everyone we meet is difficult. Who or what helps you to 'wait and watch' for such glimpses of God's glory?
  • Our culture majors on images, fashion, delectable food, lighting effects and many sounds. In what settings do you find space for spiritual reflection?
  • When trust is betrayed or people behave atrociously towards you, what most helps you to respond in a Christ-like way?

Bible notes author

The Revd David Deeks

The Revd David Deeks is a retired Methodist minister. He has always focused on theology and spirituality as practical themes.