Read Rom 2:17-29.
We have been going through the book of Romans on the Sundays when I preach. The first sermon was from Rom 1 and the verse that says, the righteous will live by faith. I talked about the lens of faith and how the only essential thing from our past, present and the future is Jesus Christ. The second sermon was from Rom 1 and 2 and the topic was worship and idolatry. And we learned that to identify the idols in our lives, we should examine our thoughts and our actions because those are good indications of what we worship.
This week, I want to continue our study of Romans and we will finish up Rom 2 and move into Rom 3. The conclusion that Paul lays out, like everything else that he has been saying up until this point, is rather simple — Jesus is not only the most essential thing in life, He is not only worthy of all our worship, but also we actually need Jesus every moment of every day.
Jesus is not someone I just turn to when something goes wrong or I need something or I am in a jam. He is like bread. Without him, I would die of hunger. He is like water. Without him, I would die of thirst. He is my Savior. Without him, I would die in my sins.
This all sounds pretty obvious. Every Christian would agree, yes, I need Jesus every day. But do we really live each moment clinging desperately to Jesus?
Today, I want to examine why it is that we don’t feel the need for Jesus every single day.
There are some like in the passage we read today who are the highly religious, high octane, self-righteous people who brag about their relationship with God. Others are the low-energy, I need a powerbar, religious types who just do the Sunday thing but they don’t really try all that hard to live for God. In both groups, they don’t need Jesus because they selectively obey either what they are good at or what is comfortable to them.
People these days don’t brag outright because you won’t have many friends if you brag all the time. So we don’t call it bragging anymore, we call it trash talking. And for those who know me well, you know I love to talk trash. I don’t know why. It’s so fun.
Like in sports, esp. basketball, there is a lot of trash talking. There are these expressions that I don’t know who created, but these one liners have been passed down from generation to generation and you hear these trash talking lines on bball courts across America.
Like I’m going to take you to school. Meaning your skills are so childish compared to me and you still have a lot of learning to do. Or do you need a notepad to take notes? Because I am like your professor of bball and you need to be my student. Or are your ankles okay? You say that as you juke someone and dribble past them and because they don’t know which way you are going and their body shifts from one side to another and then they just fall over as if their ankles are broken. Or you’ve been posterized? Like those posters of Michael Jordan dunking over someone and you see that player from the other team with a glazed look over his eyes. And they make a poster into that and hang it in every kid’s room, meaning I just dunked over you and you looked so helpless.
Or you have the more direct self-elevating kind of trash talking. Like you better call the fire department because I am on fire. Or I like saying, “Over You” as I shoot over my defender. Meaning you tried to play defense on me but I shot over you and you can’t guard me. Or after you shoot, you say, I am going to let it marinate, meaning you leave your arm in the air frozen in that position to marinate like you would marinate a steak overnight in the refrigerator. Or as you are shooting, you anticipate the foul so you say “and one,” meaning I got the basket and the foul. You can’t stop me — even if you try to foul me hard, you grab my arms, it doesn’t matter, I’m still going to score.
Or when you are on defense and you block the ball, you say, get out of my kitchen. Because this is my house and you don’t belong in my house.
Sometimes, I play basketball with Timothy and Jeremiah and I like to talk trash to them because like a good Christian father, I am trying to teach them humility and so they know their place. So I block them as they are trying to shoot, and I say, get out of here, son! And that is a double trash talking since they are my sons.
Jeremiah trash talks back at me now. And it’s a single word trash talk that is so brilliant that I don’t know how he came up with it. You hear it and it renders you speechless, there is just no comeback. I would say, Jeremiah, get out of here son, as I block him. And he would say, wow, in a monotone voice. Wow. And I say, what do you mean, wow? Wow. And no matter what I say, he would answer, wow. And after a while I had to just give up. It’s pure genius.
Imagine if I played against my children for the rest of my life and I never watched any NBA games and I never played against other adults. Then, I’d think I was a super star. But once I step out of my little arena called home and I play against someone greater, then I would realize, I’m really just average.