There are a lot of Roman statues. When you think about culture and you think about what typifies societies and people groups, the Romans really enjoyed themselves. And by that I means they enjoyed "self."
My small group began a study of the Book of Romans last night. Paul wrote a letter t the church in Rome because he cared for them and didn't want them to fall prey to the sinful desires he had heard they were participating in.
The first chapter of Romans is split into two parts. The first part is all warm and fuzzy. In the second part however, Paul rips his Roman friends pretty good. Paul would not win any awards for political correctness these days. Read this and see what I mean.
"18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." - Romans 1:18-25
Those sinful Romans!!! How dare they ignore God and spend so much time honoring themselves and thinking about themselves, worshipping images of man rather than worshipping God!!
Uhh, anybody watch the Academy Awards a few days ago? Check it . . . the Romans are us!!!
Golden statues . . . of a man. People dressed up in revealing, self-displaying costumes. Praising each other. Giving awards to each other for their greatness. Yup, we ARE the Romans of our day.
Let me ask you a question. What happened to the Roman Empire? Where are all of the beautiful people from 2000 years ago? They're all dead. The statues they made of themselves are in museums - chipped and cracked, entire limbs of "the beautiful people" broken off with old age.
And where are we? Let's keep reading Romans 1 and see if we can find any clues into what we will become.
"26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." - Romans 1:26-32
Wow! Sound familiar? Our society today in this country and the world is very much like the Roman Empire. We are extremely full of ourselves. Perhaps it's time to fast from all the gluttony in our lives. How appropriate it is that today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The next 40 days are a reminder of the 40 days Jesus spent in the dessert - fasting and praying. So let it be with each of us.
But Ash Wednesday is more than not eating doughnuts for 5 1/2 weeks. It's not about walking around with a cross of ashes on our forehead. It's not some religious checklist item like, "There everyone will know I went to Ash Wednesday services now!"
No Ash Wednesday is about prayer and abstinence. Not for our glory but for God's. It should be a private thing, between ourselves and God. That is the true way to honor our Father in Heaven. Not through anything WE did, but by acknowledging everything that HE did.
“16 And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." - Matthew 6:16-18
What's Wrong With Ash Wednesday? by BT Daily