This week, in an effort to pay more and better attention to our walks with God, Chris and I have started studying the Bible together. Now when I say, “study the Bible,” I don’t mean that we’ve whipped out all of our commentaries to see what the experts think. I mean we’re opening the Bible, reading Scripture, and asking hard questions and trying to come up with logical answers. We’re doing a reading plan that takes us through an overview (60 days) of Paul’s writing, and it helps that we’ve started with Paul.
Okay, here’s what we discussed last night: Romans 3:21-31 (NASV)
We were stuck right away on verse 21, “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested.” God brought righteousness to us through Jesus Christ because we could never truly attain righteousness through the Law. But does that mean that the Law is obsolete today? What exactly is the function of the Law (of the Old Testament) today? From what we understand, the old purpose was to bring people under one standard, a standard no one could meet, but now there is a new way to be righteous, which is according to the promises of the Old Testament.
The idea of the OT law was for God to show his people how completely jacked up they were. If Christ had come before Moses and the Law, no one would have understood the cost of Christ’s blood, but because the Hebrews spent centuries trying to atone their own sins with the blood of animals, they (theoretically) understood what Christ’s blood was worth.
Verse 27 says, “Where then is boasting?” Paul has spent his time telling us that we are justified by Christ, and he throws out this question. Immediately, I think of the 1 Corinthians 1:31, which says, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Great. This verse is actually a quote from Jeremiah 9:23-24, “‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.”
Now this verse cross-references another half-dozen verses across the OT, but I stopped here because earlier in the evening, my friend, whose name is also Chris, challenged me by asking, “When I find relationship with God, will that relationship be the sweetest gift of my life?” Or in other words, what do I boast in?
Good questions. See he was speaking about how the gifts of God–our family, friends, spouses, talents, etc.–are what truly get in the way of relationship with him, not our sin. Yes, sin poses a threat, but the good things in life get in the way of God sometimes.
Chris spoke about fasting and hungering. Fasting isn’t necessarily about food, though it certainly can be. Mostly, it’s about removing whatever stands in the way of God in my life. So I asked myself, “What consumes my life? If it isn’t God, then, Houston, we have a problem.”
Here is a short list of stuff that consumes my life:
- Sleeping–including lengthy afternoon naps
- Ravi (the cat)
- Reading fun stuff (ahem, not always the Bible)
- Listening to music (ahem, not always the “Christian” stuff)
- Ice cream
But Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 6:1, “I will not be mastered by anything.” Okay, then what do I do with the list I just wrote down?
Today’s advertising teaches us to hunger, to want something. You see an ad for Pizza Hut pizza at 4:30 in the afternoon, and suddenly you start thinking that maybe pizza is a good idea for dinner. Life is sort of one big commercial that makes us hunger for stuff: true love, great bodies, cool cars, etc.
But what makes us hunger for God? On one hand, God’s put something in each of us that makes us hunger for him, but on the other hand it’s our human nature to hunger for ourselves, to look out for ourselves, which makes us cannibals, in a sense, because what do we really know about what we need?
Our actions reflect who or what we truly love. If we say we want God, our actions must reflect that otherwise we are liars. But how do we change? How do we go from hungering after our own lives to hungering after God and the life he wants so desperately to give us? We start making small preferential choices that favor God. We choose godly conversations instead of television. We choose prayer time instead of nap time. We choose reading Scripture instead of reading smut.
So where am I in all of this? Well, I’m trying to figure it out myself. The list above still taunts me (or rather, convicts me), and while some of the items are good for me (my husband, running) some are not (television, ice cream). So this morning’s blog is an effort to not watch as much TV. Instead of watching TV, I’ve chosen to think about God, and I didn’t have any ice cream for breakfast.