So often there is a question of “where is God when. . .” (fill in the blank with any lonely, disastrous or confusing event that left you grasping for something and feeling unsatisfied.) Romans 1 just answered that for us, God is real and His love is real – that it has been made plain since the beginning through His creation. It is only in the evilness of sin and our sinfully fallen world that we beg the question – where is a God of love?
Living with Integrity
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul is speaking about the sinfulness of non-religious people (pagan even), who were not Jewish and didn’t follow the Law (rules of the Old Testament). Recall from Romans 1:20 that from the very beginning of the world, God has made himself known to people through His creation. So, whether Jew or non-Jew, whether religious or non-religious, we are without excuse for claiming the existence of God.
In Romans 2, Paul is correcting the readers (and specifically the Jews) for judging others. It is easy to get hung up on passages like this that suggest you are a sinner because you commit adultery or lie, cheat, steal, etc., measurable things that you can easily say, “Well, I don’t commit adultery, so that doesn’t apply to me.” In this we are trying to justify ourselves of our sins. The point is really that we are all sinners and just the same – that we are not to judge others because we have no merit in judging, only God does. And the truth of the matter is – no one can stand up to the judgement of God without the grace of Jesus!
Do not think that verses like 6 that say God will judge everyone according to what they have done, mean that we are saved by our works, but rather that our works show forth our faith.
Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
Even the most adamant “atheist” will often admit to subscribing to some type of code of ethics or innate morality. All children, even without being taught, are convicted in their spirit of things that are right or wrong. They know not to hurt others or make them feel sad, and they feel sorry when they do. Whole people groups who have never heard the Word of God and are not religious (as we know it) at all have a code of morality they follow. We know it is not right to murder, to hurt, to steal, to lie. . . we just know it. And this fact alone testifies to the existence of God and our need for salvation.
If we are truly honest with ourselves when proclaiming our worldview, if we really believe that what we believe is really real, then surely we could not believe that there is no God, there is no purpose, we are completely randomly here by accident, etc. . . that is simply NOT TRUE.
Where is God?
Thankfully, “God shows no favoritism,” or “God treats everyone the same” (Romans 2:11), meaning that regardless of who we are or what our background is (atheist, Jew, Gentile, Greek 😉 . . . ) we are all judged the same. Circumcision cannot make us righteous. Acts of good or good works cannot make us right with God. Works will not buy our way into heaven. Indulgences or pardons from a Pope will not earn us a place at God’s table. We need Jesus.
In the same way, we cannot expect a life of riches (on this earth) – of full wholeness, healing, restoration, and health just because we are Christians. In fact, the Bible promises the opposite – struggles, upset, persecution, poorness. In these times it is all too easy to feel bitter, remorseful, or judgmental, thinking “Where is God?” Just coming out of the 14th anniversary of September 11th, I know that many of us have heard or even considered ourselves, where is God? The truth is that God has never left. He created us to be His people, in communion with Him, but we messed it up (via Adam and Eve and original sin).
So where is God? He is right here with you – right here waiting for you to accept that you really are a sinner, you really are just as bad as the rest, you really are in need of saving (and we all are). God is here waiting for you to accept His Son Jesus – to believe that Jesus really is the Son of God, that he really did come to earth as a man, and that he really did die in our place, to make us right with God. God is here waiting for you to rejoice with Him the glory and goodness, mercy and grace of the resurrection, knowing that death was conquered on a cross 2000 years ago when some women stumbled upon an empty tomb. Jesus Christ is Alive! God is here waiting for you to turn to Him, to acknowledge Him with your heart and your mind, and proclaim with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord!” If you do that – if you believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9).
It’s interesting to consider how many religious and spiritual people become known as hypocrites, as bearing undue judgement on the world and on society. But what we have to remember – especially as Christians, is that (as Romans 3 will tell us next week) – we ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all just as undeserving as the next and the rest and the fallen and the broken and the disgusting and murderous and evil . . . if not for Christ, we are nothing – destined for a Hell separated from our love and our Creator. But because of Jesus, PRAISE YESHUA! There is no record of us ever doing anything wrong – ever. We are wiped clean. Forever. Once and done. But only if we believe.