We yearn for meaning in a world marked by pain. How does the gospel lead us out of such brokenness? Paul writes the book of Romans to describe how the gospel transforms, not just our eternal destiny, but our earthly future together. Personal suffering, relational rifts, behavioral addictions, church divisions, and even community fragmentation—all these are healed and restored by the gospel. This is Paul’s promise to us. Dare we believe it? Disappointment and disillusionment with the church will give way to fresh hope as we learn to not just believe the gospel, but live the gospel! Let’s follow Jesus into His restoration project.
“What in the Sam Hill is this world coming to?” Okay, this is an expression from my generation, and you may have never heard it before. But in every living room, every locker room, and every Starbucks this same idea is freely vented. Something is dreadfully wrong with this world and we’re not quite sure what it is.
Climate change. ISIS. Sex trafficking. Normal seems broken.
Trust the government? Trust the banking system? Those stalwarts are at a pretty much all-time low in public confidence. Whether Democrat or Republican, we don’t expect much help to come from either the White House or Wall Street.
Trying to process this constant flow of pain and suffering in the world, our hearts often turn to various versions of the same question: If there’s a God, where is He? Others more pointedly challenge His very existence. I heard one man recently say, “As a father I would never let my children suffer like this. If He’s a father, why isn’t He doing something?”
The pain is real, and our culture is jaded. Understandably.
Explanations often move toward conspiracy theories. Someone has to be blamed for this mess! Sometimes it’s the government and sometimes it’s corporate greed. But eventually it all comes back to God.
Now let’s rewind to ancient Rome. Slaves, gladiators, and crucifixes lining the roads remind us that trouble and corruption and blame are not just modern problems. The human story has been interwoven with tragedy from the beginning.
In the midst of a violent Rome Paul dares to write a bold message to ignite the followers of Christ—a vision for a different world, a vision for our world today. He addresses what we might today call “the sincere but superficial church,” wanting to plant in them the power to change their personal world. Culminating in a vision to change nations.
The right question can unlock a powerful insight. So why does Paul write the longest theological treatise in the New Testament to explain the gospel to people who are already saved? Don’t just read over this question. Mull it over. Think about it. If you’ll allow it, this question will lead you right into Paul’s apostolic purpose—a purpose exactly fitted for the hour in which we live.
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