As I thought about Paul’s chastisement of the Jews in our lesson today I couldn’t help think about Michael Jackson. No, I don’t mean that as any judgment of his life or choices in life. The image that came to mind was of Michael Jackson “moonwalking.” For those that don’t know the dance step that he made famous in a music video, look it up. It is a magnificent movement where the dancer, the individual, appears to be taking forward steps, but in fact they are moving farther and farther backwards. The closest I came to mastering the dance move was by walking slowly the wrong direction on one of the people movers at the airport.
But, it came to mind because it was what Paul was describing of the Jews. On the outside their every physical motion made it look like they were heading forward, in the right direction, on a path honoring God. But it was all an illusion, and, on the inside and to anyone who saw the truth, they were moving backward, farther away from God.
Our role as believers is, in large part, to lead others to God. If we ourselves are not moving forward toward God, then we are leading others astray. It does not work to go one direction while telling others, do pay attention to what I’m doing, go that way, it is the right path. If it is the right path, shouldn’t you be on it as well?
But we lie, especially to ourselves. We convince ourselves that we are very good at hiding the darkness so that no one, not even God, can see it. We lie that it doesn’t affect our thoughts, words and deeds, and that it has no impact on our relationship with God or with others. We lie in deceiving ourselves that our sin isn’t so bad, that it is OK, that it is just a habit, that everyone else does it, that it isn’t my fault it is an illness, that somehow it is just OK because, well, we aren’t as bad as those people. The problem is not that people (us especially) don’t know God’s law (it is written into the fabric or all of creation and into us as well), it is that we choose not to follow it.
But Paul is not pointing this out to the Jews of Rome to condemn them and judge how horrible they are. He is point it out because he loves them, as Christ loves them, and wants them to change and help him spread the good news to the gentiles. In the same way, the Holy Spirit does not convict us to make us feel horrible, we are convicted to change and help Him spread the good news.
The law, God’s chosen people, a covenant relationship through Abraham with the sign of circumcision. They boasted in it, making them superior to others to the extent of being above the law
The bible, BSF, bible teaching church, the honor to teach children. It is always easier to tell others than to put it in practice on a daily basis.
The first three – no other gods, idols, misuse the name of God (also not stealing).
We become proud and boastful. We rely on ourselves and do not repent and change. We make excuses or act like we deserve our sin because it is balanced out by good works.
They blaspheme the name of God. They harden the hearts of those they intended to help. Yes, I’m guilty, every time a sin, my thoughts words and deeds are evident not only to God but to others and my witness is contradicted.