Read Romans 1:24-32
Sometimes it is helpful to know that there is more to the story. When the Fellowship of the Ring (From the original Lord of the Rings Trilogy) first came out in the movie theaters most people went in knowing that they were only going to get a piece of the story in this first part. There was much more to come. A friend of mine, however, saw the movie and left the theatre saying, “That was the worst ending I have ever seen! They didn’t destroy the ring, we don’t know what happened. That was terrible!” He, of course, did not realize that the film maker had two more whole movies to finish the story.
Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best! (Romans 1:28-32 MSG)
If we were to read this scripture from Romans in isolation, it would be a terrible end to the story. God’s people are left to fend for themselves and all sense of morality and hope and right living has been tossed out the window. Basically, God has become uninvolved and let the people run wild. All hell has broken loose. Where is the hope in this text? There is none if we are left to believe that this is the end of the story. But it’s no the end. There is more.
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Romans 5:6-8 MSG)
Jesus doesn’t wait for us to get our lives together. He doesn’t wait for us to put on our Sunday best and clean up or act. Jesus loves us right smack dab in the middle of the messiness that can be our lives. We are no longer left carry the load ourselves. He does the heavy lifting.
There is so much more to the story.