Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There is no high road.

I started reading Romans (again) this week, and out of curiosity, looked up chapter 2 in "The Message" paraphrase. Boy, did they take a clear and stinging tone with it. I have to wonder if Paul intended it to be that blunt.

But at the same time, it does give a little clarity into the modern nuances of the passage. Check it out:

1 Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.2 But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done.
3 You didn't think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard?4 Or did you think that because he's such a nice God, he'd let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.
5 You're not getting by with anything. Every refusal and avoidance of God adds fuel to the fire. The day is coming when it's going to blaze hot and high, God's fiery and righteous judgment.6 Make no mistake: In the end you get what's coming to you -7 Real Life for those who work on God's side,8 but to those who insist on getting their own way and take the path of least resistance, Fire!
9 If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you're from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended.10 But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up.11 Being a Jew won't give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.

It's been a while since I've had the desire to read Scripture, but my heart is thirsty and craves truth. Dave and I had a wonderful afternoon Sunday talking with a friend over things that were deeper and more mysterious than we know. And from that, I'm just aching for more. I miss school for that reason, I think: the challenge to think and think beyond where you've thought before. So Romans ought to kickstart some thinking. At least, I'm praying that it does.