Synchronicity. That moment when things click and come together unexpectedly, unplanned and unlooked for. I have been watching the HBO Miniseries "Rome" (warning: it’s not a good choice for anyone easily offended). Then, Kevin and I decided yesterday to start on the book of Romans after finishing Luke. So this morning, my mind still dwelling on some of the things I’ve been learning about first century Roman culture, I read Eugene Peterson’s excellent introduction to the Book of Romans in The Message:
"When this letter arrived in Rome, hardly anyone read it, certainly no one of influence. There was much to read in Rome – imperial decrees, exquisite poetry, finely crafted moral philosophy – and much of it was world-class. And yet in no time, as such things go, this letter left all those other writings in the dust. Paul’s letter to the Romans has had a far larger impact on its readers than the volumes of all those Roman writers put together."
Paul was writing to believers in the most powerful city in the world. The city was the epicenter of politics, religion, war and culture in that day. In the HBO miniseries you are swept into the lives and machinations of the elite and powerful Romans of that day – for whom Christianity wasn’t even a remote consideration. They are the ones whom Paul describes in Romans Chapter 1…
"What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they
didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized
themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense
nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but
were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds
the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any
God said, in effect, "If that’s what you want, that’s what you get." It
wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth,
filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God
for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who
made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!
And yet, Paul – an insignificant Roman citizen writing from an obscure outpost of the empire humbles himself by claiming to be a "slave" who is presenting a way out of the pig-pen for any who might wish to take a step of faith.
Today, people are still making the mistake of the Romans and waking up to find their lives silly, confused with no direction. The way Paul presented is still open to all who wish to take that same step of faith.