Romans 3 We Are Not, But God is
I don’t want you to think these posts and reflections on Romans (or the ones on Ruth) are comprehensive commentaries, but notes towards a fuller commentary. I can see writing a whole series of book-length commentaries once I have completed my theological training. Books have been, will be, and are being written on these books from the bible, so no blog will ever capture the depth of such books. I am merely trying to pass on my reflections, musings, and findings of my study and wrestling with these books from the bible. One of my goals for the second year of my blog is delve deeper into God’s word and not settle for the easy answers.
So, here goes.
Paul opens the third chapter of Romans quoting Psalms and Isaiah. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Paul is using the Hebrew bible to say that no one, not even one is faithful is good for all have turned away and done bad. They don’t know peace and have forgotten their proper place to the divine. William Barclay writes, “Responsibility is always on the other side of privilege. The more opportunity we have to do right, the greater our condemnation if we do wrong.” Put another way, the line that the Spiderman movies have made famous, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
God entrusts us to use our blessings to do good, to extend the very same unlimited, boundless, unconditional love and grace lavished on us to others who need it as much if not more than we did. We question why we suffer, why we do the less savory things we do, yet we fail to question why we are blessed, why we are loved, why we have been and are being saved. There is a reason God blesses, saves, and graces us, so that we can be a blessing, a pointer to the Savior, and a grace to others. When we see our salvation for us alone, our faith as private matter we fail to embody the salvation, the faith graced to us.
This is why we crazy liberals get on the case of the rich, fat cat conservatives who want lower taxes for the upper 1%, who claim braggadociosly that they created and are creators and no one helped them they did it on their own. They have been blessed with their wealth and position not for their sake alone, but to help others to be a blessing. They didn’t create a thing—not their position not their companies not jobs. It’s all God’s work not theirs that has made it possible for them to succeed as they have. Paul is writing to them as much if not more than to anyone else. A Christian does not horde but shares, does not burden but lightens the load, does not crush others but celebrates with others, does not harm but heals.
When the Irish novelist Lord Dunsany came safely through the First World War, he asked himself, ‘In some strange way I am still alive. I wonder what God means to do with a life so specially spared?’
Paul is saying that we do not ask this. That we don’t question why we are saved, blessed, and graced through the love of God. Why God loves us as we are without having to do a thing to earn or deserve it. Why should God, the Creator-King of the Universe love me so, why should I, little old me be deserving of God’s loving kindness and not His wrath when I clearly deserve have earned the opposite.
I know I am a sinner. I know even more (and this is what really counts) that Jesus is an even greater Savior. That Jesus went to the cross and died a most horrible death, so that I might know and live from God’s love rather than my own sinfulness. This is as true about you too! God loves you! God shows in Jesus dying on the cross how much God loves you!