Friday, June 19, 2009

Mingling Among Romans

I yet press on in my endeavor to read the entire Bible. I started reading in Romans today and right away in Chapter 1, I felt like taking note of this and taking note of that.

It amazes me that God would use someone who hadn’t known his son firsthand, hadn’t walked with Jesus, someone who was persecuting those who believed in Jesus the Christ; God used Paul greatly to bring his story to the world. Most of the New Testament is about Paul and the people he reached through the power of Christ he received from God.

Not Peter, who was to be the foundation of the church, the first disciple whom Jesus called. Not John, whom Jesus loved. No, not them but the guy who was on a mission to make sure men like them died.

Anyways, here are thoughts I had while reading the beginnings of Romans:

Romans 1:11-12~I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong--- 12 that is, that you and I may be MUTUALLY ENCOURAGED by each other’s FAITH.

Encouraged by what? By each other’s friendship, smiling faces? No. By money? No. By kind words? By non-judgemental ways? By giving absolute approval to each other? No. By faith.

I have a difficult time processing compliments I receive from others. Someone says that I am independent; I know that I am very dependent on others. Someone says that I’m on top of things; I know that I struggle greatly to keep things together. Someone says that the kids love having me around; I’d rather hear it or experience it from the kids themselves. I want to be there for them when they have questions, when they’re having difficult times, when they get down on themselves. I don’t feel like I’ve made any difference, like I have had a good influence on them.

I am encouraged when I see people choosing to do what is right, especially when it is difficult to do so. A friend of mine has a physical desire to be with someone in particular but restrains himself from her as well as refrains from seeking physical contact with other girls. A mother on crutches sees a piece of trash on the floor gets awkwardly down to pick it up and throws it away.

I am most encouraged in my faith when encouragement returns to me, when God sees fit to use me in an amazing way and allows me to hear of the effect. One friend was having a difficult time in bitterness and a sense of being distanced from God. We spent a time of fellowship together, just her and I. A few days later, she said that after we had talked, she began to feel better about her situation, to have a renewed attitude towards life. I'm not exactly sure what about that time together helped her. All I did was listen to her and give little insight from my own experiences, to say that I know how she feels, she is not alone. Being able to help her in some way, I know was only through God. He was saying to me, “See, I will turn your sufferings into something good. You trust me.”

Romans 1:20~For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

I am a nerd. I love to learn. Whenever I hear a young person talk about school, how it’s boring or how they hate science, I think they’re missing the big picture! It’s not their fault, it’s how the system is these days. I didn’t get it when I was their age, a lot of adults don’t get it, but school and learning is an incredible opportunity to know more about God and this world that he gave us.

I think learning about the world around us tells us that things don’t just happen by chance. A leaf isn’t green because it wants to be or some unknowable spirit randomly tossed green onto it. a leaf is green because of the chlorophyll it contains. An albino person isn’t some alien dropped onto the planet but is made that way due to his unique genes. Numbers are concepts, not physical objects, yet they help us talk about quantities, to order things, to predict occurrences, etc.

The color of a leaf, the albinism in a person, mathematics, all were designed by God. I think the fact that we can know things is fascinating. That we feel emotions, have a sense of beauty, etc., fascinates me even more and tells me that subjects like art and philosophy are important as well.

Or perhaps, this verse is talking about the wonder one should feel at looking up into the night sky with all the stars, or at the power of the ocean as the waves come crashing in, or the cooling effect of the wind brushing our skin. God is in those things as well.

Romans 1:28~ Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a DEPRAVED MIND, to do WHAT OUGHT NOT to be done.

I think one could read this verse as saying that God gave up and didn’t care anymore, but rather I believe it is saying that God let the people have what they wanted. I also had the thought that even in the depraved mind, one can still change and decide to choose God. God did not CONDEMN them to a depraved mind as if they no longer had a choice but left enough to change because he still cared.

I also thought about the “what ought not” part. If they that did not care to know God did what ought not be done, then those who love God should do what ought to be done. As an example of application, is using foul language a sin? Is one sinning when they swear?

I heard a group of Christians discussing the subject of swearing. The question of what constitutes a swear word came up. Who designates which is a swear word and which is not? Are we as a society unnecessarily sensitive to certain words? I was watching a show where Whoopi Goldberg was sharing her ideas with an audience. She has no problem with the word “s—t” [apparently I do] but hates the word “stupid.” I understand where she’s coming from with the latter word.

Without pointing to another verse at the moment, I wanna say that whether swearing is a sin or not, I don’t know absolutely. My concern is that by swearing, whatever the world deems as a swear word, the Christian looks more like a representative of the world rather than like a representative of Christ. The world may think one’s cool if one uses swear words, but that same world also doesn’t think one is a Christian.

Ought a Christian to swear? I do not believe so.

I could probably say more. That’s a good chunk of thinking for one entry, isn’t it? Any reactions/ thoughts of your own?

Mahalo for reading!