Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. (Rom 1:21-25 NLT)
As I was preparing for a couple of messages on worship, I ran across a paper by N.T. Wright. One of the things he suggested was that the book of Romans is a book about worship. He encouraged reading through the book looking through the lens of trying to understand worship. So, that’s what I have started to do.
After some personal greetings Paul gets right to the topic of worship. In the portion of scripture above there are two words that are translated worship. The first word in verses 21 and 23 means to give glory to something. The idea is that the thing being looked at is so far superior to anything else that it must be honored and praised. God is superior in every way. Paul says that we can see that by looking at the creation around us.
The second word, which appears in verse 25, means to fear something. The idea is that this thing is so awesome and powerful that your life must take it into account. It must be served in some way.
Of course, we’re not talking about an it, we’re talking about the relationship between people and their creator God. We are to recognize God as our creator. The theory of evolution didn’t exist in the first century and people still rejected the idea of God as the creator. If there is no creator, then there is no one who is truly superior, and we can choose to honor whomever or whatever we please. This is the foundation of idolatry. We create something to honor that encourages the behavior that our hearts want to pursue. If there is no creator, then the primary thing that people must fear is other people. It makes sense then that the person who doesn’t want to live in fear tries to become the person to be feared. This leads to all the attitudes and behaviors we find at the end of the chapter.
What does this mean for me? I am a people-pleaser. This means that I allow the opinions and responses of others to control my behavior. The solution to this is simple, but not easy. The solution is worship, specifically worship of God. He is far greater than anyone else, greater than I can imagine. As I seek to honor and glorify Him my focus shifts. I recognize that there is only one person to fear and that is the creator who has the power to destroy His creation. In serving Him I will be led to love people as I experience His love for me. Since God’s love does not always provide us with what we want there will be times when people are displeased even when I am truly loving them. I am definitely not perfect in loving others, but when I fail, I should look first to God rather than to the negative responses of others. God is the only perfect measure of love.
I’m looking forward to working through the rest of the book and discovering more about what worship is and how it should impact my life. Thanks for reading through my ramblings. I’d appreciate reading your thoughts, so please comment.
For my grandchildren:
Do not fear people and never try to hide God.
Check out mygrandmatime for more Family Bible Activities on the book of Romans.