Pondering Romans 1: 18-23
To read the passage, you can click HERE.
In the previous passage Paul talks about the gospel – the good news, as well as the righteousness of God. In this passage , and in the next few chapters, he spends some time talking about the bad news and about the wrath of God. It would seem that in order for us to really understand just how good the good news is, we need to understand just how bad the bad news is and just how dour our predicament really was.
But that was not where I found my pondering led me – though I suspect in the chapters yet to come that I will get there.
As I read the passage I began to ask this question: To what degree am I a “Christian atheist”? What is a Christian atheist you might ask? Craig Groeshel has written a book titled The Christian Atheist with the subtitle “Believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist.” I think that rightly describes a lot of believers these days. I think it rightly describes me much more than I would like to admit to.
Here are the verses that prompted these thoughts…
Verse 18 – I am an enigma. There are times when I rejoice in, obey, and trumpet the truth and then there are times when my wickedness rises to the top and I deliberately “suppress the truth.” There are times when my regard for the Word of God would not be much different than that of an atheist. Like most people I tend to believe and obey what suits my lifestyle. Just being real.
Verse 21 – “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him…” I find that by nature I am a glory monger! In other words I like to receive glory unto myself more than I want to give it to God. It is a part of my selfish, sinful, wicked nature that defaults to this mode. It is the same with giving thanks to Him. It is not something that just happens naturally. You can see how I could be perceived as an atheist throughout much of my day.
Verse 23 – “and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images…” Believers do this all the time. I do this all the time. It is called idol worship. You have your idols and I have my idols. Of course we don’t call them idols. We call them things like money, jobs, sex, boy/girlfriend, church, etc. Things that we love more than we love God. Things that we honor and esteem and “glorify” more than we do God.
You may not think of me as an atheist but believe you me I can definitely act like one. I know Paul was making a point in this passage about unbelievers but I felt called out. I guess when I act like an unbeliever I ought to feel that way.
Romans is a great book to help me deal with all this stuff. It is a book about the gospel – and as you can already see the gospel is not just for non- Christians but for Christians as well. Especially for us Christian atheists.
Next Week: Romans 1: 24-32
Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-4