“I am not an @$$?&#€,” I shot back.
“Yes. You are an @$$?&#€—and I’m an @$$?%#€, too.”
Believe it or not, it was one of the most formative moments in my life when I realized how messed up I really am.
And you are too.
Please join me as we look closer at coming to grips with being an @$$?&#€.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17. This passage repeats 2 Samuel 7, although it presents David and his son Solomon as the founders of Israel. More than anything, today’s reading gives us a window into David’s heart.
Romans 2:1-24. After chastising the practices and morals of the Gentiles in chapter 1, Paul turns the tables on the Jews in chapter 2 and groups them in the same category. Paul’s intent in this section is to demonstrate that all people are sinners—whether religious or not. In this way, he proves that all of us need a savior. Apart from following Christ, all of us are storing up wrath for ourselves.
This also sets us up for God’s kindness (verse 4): “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”
What is God’s kindness? Paul is foreshadowing what he will explain later as Jesus.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Growing up in a long line of believers can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because our Christian heritage means we have developed a culture that challenges and expects every person to follow Jesus. Living a remotely evil life is completely foreign to me.
It can also be a curse, because people like me can easily assume we’re automatically “in.” We also tend to insulate ourselves from the outside world around us. And, as much as I hate to admit it, we can easily become judgmental of people who struggle with sins that our Christian culture has deemed worse than other sins. To put it bluntly, we have a hard time admitting that we’re an @$$?&#€s
The apostle Paul addressed people like me in Romans chapter 2:
So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? (Verse 3)
I can imagine these words ruffled the feathers of quite a few of Paul’s readers. A sinner?? Me?? God’s judgment?
Paul goes on to accuse his Jewish readers of committing the same sins as the Gentiles. In tomorrow’s reading (verses 29-31), Paul names the sins:
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
From a publishing standpoint, no editor would have let this appear in print because Paul has effectively alienated his readers.
But the gist of Paul’s point is this: Going to church isn’t enough. Reading the Daily Bible Conversation blog isn’t enough. Growing up in a Christian family isn’t enough. We simply can’t do enough to be saved from God’s wrath. We’re all @$$?&#€s. We may not commit heinous crimes, but we commit sins of the heart–sins like envy, murder, strife, gossip, arrogance…the list goes on and on.
How then can anyone be saved??
Paul answers the question later in Romans, but rather than point to the antidote, I encourage you to meditate on this reality. We can’t do enough to satisfy God’s wrath against sin. We cannot be good enough to save ourselves.
The psalmist in today’s reading offers us a window into resolving this dilemma:
You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry (Psalm 10:17).
God responds to the cry of the afflicted. When we see ourselves as we really are—people created in the image of God who have become afflicted by sin—then we can be saved.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Do you identify more with Romans 1 or Romans 2? Why and how?
- How can knowing you’re messed—really messed up—hurt you? How can it help you?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.