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Romans 1:18-32:

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.

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.

“God gave them up.” Isn’t that interesting? Three times in this passage Paul describes God allowing his creation to run after earthly things like adultery, inappropriate desires, and corruptive thinking. As a result, God’s creation runs down the path of tragedy – filled with restlessness, hatred, evil behavior, and trapped in a sea of emptiness. This scripture begs the question: What kind of God would give his creation over to the evil around them, knowing their lives would only end in misery?

That’s the same question posed in the story of the prodigal son when Jesus describes what the father does in the first scene. He says, “And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And [the father] divided his property between them” (Luke 15:12). Again, we want to ask the question: What kind of father would divide up his property and let his foolish son run off with a part of his wealth?

Ironically, this story is told precisely to help us see the kind of Father God we all have. But he’s not a father of heartless judgments; he’s a God of profound freedom. In this example, we see a father who isn’t freaking out because his son chose to leave and who isn’t chasing after him to make him pay. We don’t see a controlling God. We don’t even see a condemning God. Because the Father who allows his child to run off is the Father who grants freedom. Freedom doesn’t force us to stay nor does it force our return.

While freedom is what the son is running after, freedom is also the very thing he’s running from. Think of time when God offered you freedom and you felt the consequences of running away. Then think of a time when God offered you freedom and you enjoyed the benefits of his love. [/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Yvonne Biel  

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