God is Reaching Out to Us, Nudging Us Into Salvation
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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
There is a point where a person recognizes that there is more than just the creation that they can see. Every one of us has been confronted with the existential question about whether this is all there is or if there is something more. Are the goosebumps we get at a movie or at the end of the national anthem just chemical, or is there some unexplainable paranormal (that is, beyond and alongside normal) thing going on?
This is what theologians call “General Revelation” and it is something that a lot of people can identify with. The Psalmist talks about it in Psalm 19:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
That general revelation is just the beginning of God reaching out to save our souls. From there, we can live our whole lives deciding at one moment or another to give in or to resist, to open ourselves up to seek and obey the Creator of all Things or to try to be our own lord of our life.
Pride ultimately shows itself in many ways. For some it is claiming to be wise or compassionate and slowly, imperceptibly, making yourself out to be wiser or more compassionate than God is. We set up a series of goals and then either make ourselves the master of those goals, or we make ourselves out to be a failure and we nurture that failure.
All of that is summed up in Paul saying they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” We might not be bowing down to stuff, but idolatry is submitting to anything that isn’t God. We don’t give our allegiance to a golden statue, but we might give it to the golden idea of what we dream of ourselves to be.
In all of these things, we win by avoiding futile thinking and not exchanging the glory of God for anything else. Everything is a big deal if everything is a little nudge toward loving Jesus. The sunshine, the urge to look for something more than just what we see, will lead us, if we seek it humbly, to Jesus.