When we started our study of Romans, I said that Paul wrote this letter in a deliberate attempt to persuade us to change our behaviour. So, what is Romans Chapter 1 pointing to and challenging us to change?
Romans Chapter 1 is a brilliantly crafted argument. Paul has us, his readers, agreeing with him for most of the chapter. He catches us with the bait; “Look at what that person is doing, it’s awful.” “Look at her, can you believe she would do such a thing.” “Isn’t the world terrible”. And we all agree and begin to bring to mind the people we know, and have judged, and know to be sinners.
Just as we are comfortable in our knowledge that ‘at least we aren’t like them’ attitude, Paul turns the spot light onto us. Our list of ‘sins’ our greed, our sarcastic comments that tear others down, our need to look good in another’s eyes even if it means lying, all the things that we know we do but justify, get magnified before our eyes.
I’m reminded of what Chesterton said when asked, “What is wrong with the world?” Chesterton replied, “I am”. Romans 1 is written not to label others as sinners or as stick for us to beat others with. It’s written to us as a mirror to show us what we are like…God I am the sinner; I am the one who has fallen short and who disobeys your loving commandments and I am the one who will be judged by you for this.
So, is there is any hope for us? What will God do with us? Is Paul going to leave us in this place or is there more to this story?