Week 1, Day 3
READ: Romans 1
BACKGROUND: Romans was written by the Apostle Paul sometime around 57 AD to Christians in Rome. Most of the letters we have from Paul in the New Testament were written to churches that Paul had planted or already visited along his missionary journeys. This one is different because Paul – as he explains in verses 11-15 – hadn’t ever been to Rome. Because he hadn’t ever preached and taught there, Paul uses his letter to the church in Rome to really explain the gospel in a deep and detailed way and say many of the things he would have said if he’d had the chance to visit. So, Romans is an amazingly rich book that tells us a lot about God.
Some thoughts from Chapter 1 (listed by verse):
1: Paul introduces himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ.” But the actual Greek word he uses is doulos which usually means slave. He is letting the Romans know, right off the bat, that he has given up his own rights & will to submit to God.
16: a.This is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible! We should not be ashamed of the gospel – even if some people find it offensive or unbelievable – because it is the power of God for salvation. This always reminds me of the classic Newsboys song Not Ashamed, which really shows how old I am because I saw them play that in concert before anyone who is currently in high school was even alive.
b. When Paul uses the word “salvation” he’s talking about something bigger than just having our sins wiped away. God never just saves us from something, he always saves us to something. Salvation means being saved from our sins to fullness and joy and wholeness and eternity and relationship
20: Though we can’t know everything there is to know about God just from taking a nature hike, Paul makes it clear that creation points to its Creator.
THINK: Relationships are so important to us as human beings. We’re built to be in relationship with one another. We have this fundamental desire deep within us to love and to be loved. To be accepted for all that we are. But because of this we are prone, as humans, to try to make our relationships into something they’re not and to elevate them to a place where they shouldn’t be. This is particularly true in our relationships with significant others. It’s easy to put a ton of pressure on our relationships and to get so intensely caught up in “being in love” that we begin to put our boyfriends or girlfriends on a pedestal. We become so consumed with the relationship that we make the other person the most important thing in our lives. We sacrifice time with others and even time with God and we compromise our priorities and our faith just to be them because, on some level, we are convinced that this is the best and most important thing.
But relationships fail. They fall apart. People break our hearts. Boyfriends and girlfriends dump us. I’ve been there. I got dumped over the phone once and I totally didn’t catch on that she was dumping me. I mean, she basically laid it out there in a very clear and very nice manner and I just didn’t get it. I just kept on talking as if it didn’t happen and she had to stop me and do it all over again. Then, when I finally got it things were super awkward because I told her “Oh, okay, I get it” but she didn’t want to have to dump me a 3rd time so she was like “Are you sure? I mean, you understand what just happened?” and I had to confirm again that I got it. Yet another example of my particular ability to be an idiot! 🙂 To be honest, she made a really spectacular decision and we moved on and it worked out amazingly for both of us in the end. But so many people get absolutely shattered when a relationship ends. I see it all the time in youth ministry. They’ve put so much stock in their boyfriend or girlfriend that they don’t see how life can go on – and some of them literally try to end it – simply because they got dumped. Now, I’m not saying it doesn’t stink when someone breaks up with you. It does. The pain of rejection is very real. But so often it shakes people to the core and destroys them because they’ve elevated the other to a place of importance that should be reserved only for God.
“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” – Romans 1:25
There is only room for one God in our lives. We have space to worship only one. It is so easy to worship and serve another person. To elevate him or her to the place of God. To neglect God and neglect others out of devotion to this individual. And, for that matter, it is so easy to elevate all kinds of created things like money, clothes, cars, popularity, entertainment, video games, and more to the place of God. It’s easy to let created things become the most important thing in our lives. To allow them to take God’s place. To worship and serve them. And this is especially true when it comes to other people. But nothing other than the Creator can take the place of the Creator. To believe anything else or to live any other way is to exchange the truth of God for a lie. Don’t buy into the lie this world is telling that there is anything or anyone worth serving and worship except the God who created us and died for us to make relationship with him possible!
ASK: Is there someone or something in my life that I’ve elevated to God’s place? What steps to I need to take to ensure that God is always in his rightful place in my life as the only one I serve and worship?