Another Sunday heading to church with the windscreen off and my speed climbing beyond 80 kph. I’m exhilarated as I feel myself forced against the backrest by the headwind. I can’t decide if I’m more passionate about getting to church or about my 2003 Harley Dyna Lowrider thundering over the road. As I’m in the moment, I’m going to guess that it’s the Harley that has captured my heart. But, like all moments, this moment fades too quickly.
I’m old enough to know that a passion needs to be more intentional than seeking a moment.
In Romans 2:12-16 Paul reveals a Passion That The Future You Will Be Grateful For.
To understand why we’d be grateful, we need to understand Paul’s contemporaries and their problem…
1. Paul’s contemporaries were complacent
In Romans 2:13 Paul writes, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” NIV.
As Paul crafts the letter of Romans many of his comments are directed toward a specific type of person – the complacent Jew. As he writes, Paul reveals that his contemporaries had access to God’s personal revelation of Himself, (their version of the Bible), and yet they had no desire to use it to engage God personally.
Possession of a Bible doesn’t connect us with God. A passion for using the Bible to engage with God personally will.
I leaned the bike onto its stand and with a touch of sorrow shut it off. With my ears ringing and my hair matted I thumped my way up the walkway in my riding boots. It was necessary to set aside one passion for a greater passion.
2. Complacency matters because the stakes are very high
In Romans 2:12 Paul writes, “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law” NIV.
Complacency wouldn’t matter at all if there was nothing to lose. In our case, there is a great deal to lose. Paul reminds his complacent contemporaries that a day is coming when God will judge the entire world, both Jew and Gentile. On that day, the possession of a Bible won’t matter.
If God’s judgement were just a myth then we could be passionate or complacent about anything at all. But, God’s judgement is real. It’s not our possession of a Bible that will prepare us for judgement, it’s our intentional passion that drives us to use the Bible to personally engage with Jesus that will matter.
I set my helmet on the ground to take out my keys and unlock the church doors. I stood for a moment looking at my bike while the doors slowly closed. This was one of those days when I had wished I got up earlier so I could take a longer ride (then again, isn’t every day like that). As I hear the door click closed my head and heart click, too. Down to business.
3. Using the Bible to personally engage with God is a passion the future you will be grateful for
In Romans 2:16 Paul writes, “This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares” NIV.
Because they were complacent about the Bible (their version of it), Paul’s contemporaries didn’t recognize Jesus when He had come, and now they were rejecting the Gospel. They avoided personally engaging God as His children, yet they fully expected the benefits of a child. Paul warns that they will be judged for their secret distaste of personal engagement.
Possessing a dusty, unused Bible doesn’t help anyone. Intentionally using the Bible to personally engage with God helps, though. There’s only one thing that will rescue us on the day when God will judge all of us – acceptance of the Gospel – faith in Jesus.
Jesus loves you and me so much that He sacrificed Himself on a cross to take away our judgement. He didn’t die so that we could complacently keep a dusty Bible on a coffee table as a trinket or good-luck charm. He sacrificed because of love, and He desires something more personal than complacency. He’s asking for personal engagement, because He really, really likes us a lot.
If you will intentionally grow your passion for using your Bible to personally engage with God, your future you will be very grateful when our time has finally run out and God closes history as we know it.
I walked out the church doors, put my helmet on the ground as I reached for my keys to lock up. I wore a big smile as I looked at the bike, leaning and gleaming in the parking lot. “God, may my passion for using the Bible to engage with You personally always be much bigger than my passion for my bike. … and, thank You for the Harley.”
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