ARE WE READY?
If you remember a couple weeks ago, we read in the first chapter of Romans that Paul wanted to visit the church in Rome but had been unable to get there so far. There is a distinct contrast between what was read two weeks ago and what we read today. Why would that be? What we read in verses 8-17 was all positive and empowering, but as Paul continued to speak to the church in Rome his message took a complete turn from what he had just been telling the church. In the 8th verse Paul told the church how their faith had been reported all over the world. So why would he be suddenly telling the church in Rome God’s wrath is about to be revealed? While the church in Rome was apparently an active and vibrant place to worship, there are things going on in Rome that can potentially test their faith. Satan was alive and well in Rome 2000 years ago and he is alive and well in Illinois today as well. Paul was reminding them that a higher power is obvious to everyone and yet there are those who are intentionally ignoring the truth. Paul was reminding the church also about the fact that some people believe they are smarter than God or they believe God simply does not exist so you can forget about those religious nuts. Paul felt compelled to go down a list of things that are contrary to God’s will and desire for God’s people. Paul warns there are those who have chosen to worship what has been created by God rather than the God who created everything.
Paul further talks of how men and women are no longer being faithful to God by marrying a man and woman but have engaged in inappropriate behavior, men with men and women with women. Paul continues his warning since there are those who have totally rejected God and he has allowed them to do whatever they feel is right.
When we look at the examples Paul gave in verses 29-31, we see just how far from God some are willing to go. Throughout it all Paul reminds the church that deep down in their hearts they know what God expects but purposely and willing chose to do what they want to do instead. In fact, in verse 32 we read “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death. They not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. After Paul has said all of this to the church in Rome, I will ask the question one more time. Why was Paul throwing all of this out there to the church? After all, earlier in the 1st chapter he was praising the church for its faith, so why would Paul do this? The reason is very simple. Paul knew what the Christians in Rome was exposed to every day of their lives. Rome was a booming center of everything at this time in history. You could see and do virtually everything under the sun. Paul knew even the strongest of Christians may have trouble resisting all the things Satan is throwing at them in Rome on a daily basis. Paul wanted to make sure the Christians in Rome truly knew what was in agreement with God and what was not. Paul felt compelled to write this letter because he had not been able to share with the church in person yet.
I am afraid sometimes we are mistaken and believe the early church just grew and grew and there were no distractions for them at all, which leads us to the church right here and now. Is there anything for us to learn from what Paul was telling the church in Rome? If Paul were here right now, would Paul be warning this church about anything to be on the lookout for? As we think about the variety of things Paul warned the church about how many are still valid problems facing the world today? There is one saying that goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Is that true when we look at what Rome was facing and look at what Christians in America are facing today? When I look at those of you here this morning and think of those who are watching elsewhere, I am not sure if many of you would struggle with any of the things mentioned by Paul. However, these are still examples of what the church is still dealing with in society. There are so many things that are competing for the heart and soul of everyone. It is your responsibility and mine to lift up God’s standards for all to see. Not because we believe we are better than anyone else, but because we want to see everyone have an honest opportunity at eternal life. We have a new generation that is being pulled in ways that is making a relationship with Jesus Christ very difficult to achieve. We as the church must find ways to break through the lies and share God’s truth and God’s love. Virtually everything mentioned by Paul are problems in today’s world as well as several others.
In Ephesians 4:15 we are encouraged to speak the truth in love. That is our goal; that is our mission. I am so thankful for each one of you faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May we seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance. Through Christ we will prevail! To God be all glory, honor and praise!
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