I like nuance… a lot… but there are moments when I wish things were a little clearer. These two verses from the beginning of Romans, so close in text and yet juxtaposed against one another, have always bothered me:
Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (NIV).
Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (NIV).
Of course, I understand that there is disparity between worshiping God in creation and worshiping creation, itself; but sometimes I think it’s difficult to discern the difference. And I’m not sure it begins and ends in any kind of literal and definitive sense. I think, instead, we are prone to worship all kinds of created things, people, ideas, ideologies, causes, and dreams in the name of God.
So, while we might have a bonafide case against someone who builds an altar and offers incense to a statue or a tree or another human being; I think it’s a lot more difficult to recognize the idolization in our own lives, the things (and people) who take the place of God in ways that are so subtle we don’t even identify them. And it just ups the ante when these things (or people) are legitimately great, so even the church community commends us for loving them most.
As I’m thinking this through, I’m just going to put it out there that I’m actually not sure how to work through this or discern enough to be certain our worship is appropriately placed. That’s pretty hard to admit.
I want to fall back on some things I believe such as, “all truth is God’s truth,” and even Scripture that indicates, “whoever is not against you is for you” (see Luke 9:50), but I also want to be careful not to fall into a pattern of equating good stuff with God’s grace. I wonder if this is an impossible balance to strike…