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.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 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.
I read a blog post a while ago that described rugby as ‘New Zealand’s unofficial religion.’
I feel that I need to say, at the start of this post, that I am in no way saying that rugby, or sport or recreation are bad things, by no means, but they need to be considered in light of the Gospel.
I often think back to the Rugby World Cup that was hosted here in New Zealand in 2011, the event comes around every four years and is a massive deal for the whole country, so when we hosted the cup it was a HUGE event. As the four year cycle of ‘worship’ came to a close we could see the truth in Paul’s words, that people today, no less than those in his day and age, have swapped the glory of the immortal God for images of men and other animals. Think about it, the Australian rugby team – the wallabies, the springboks, the eagles, the bears.
People dress up to support these teams, they paint their faces, they buy the shirts, they go to the temples and sing their worship songs and they chant and cheer and fellowship and worship. Then afterwards they go home and talk about what they have seen and look forward to the the next time they can go, they anticipate it, it is all that they think about, they work themselves up into a religious frenzy of nervousness until their team plays again.
Not only that, but consider the reaction to the All Blacks’ win on that Sunday (the day NZ won the World Cup for only the second time). What did Graeme Henry (the coach) say? That he had found peace? What about all of the kissing of the cup? The adulation that was poured upon the trophy? Yet the question remains, what has this ‘god’ given us? As a country, even as individuals, what have we got to show for our outpouring of worship to this god?
The most it can do, the most that anything that is not God can do, is provide temporary escape from the world and its problems. Yet we always have to return and face them, Psalm 33 talks about this:
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
We are continually putting our hope in things other than God, we are constantly placing more importance on them that we put on God and pursuing a relationship with Him. But they cannot save, this is another point that Romans makes.
God made the things of this world good, and they are to be enjoyed, but the problem is when a good thing becomes the greatest thing. When something that was never meant to terminate on itself does, and we forget to use it to glorify our Creator. I remember when Michael Jones (one of the greatest NZ rugby players of all time) would not play rugby on a Sunday because of his commitment to God, and his refusal to put a sport above Jesus.
So we are able to enjoy the good things in life, we should, they have been given by God for our enjoyment, but we need to make sure that we use them as God intended and that we don’t make them the only thing, or the main thing. So the question comes to each of us, what is the main thing n your life? What is there that has become the main thing that needs to go back to being a good thing used as God intended? What idol do you need to smash in order to worship God as He should be worshipped?