What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:9-12 ESV)
If Paul were writing the Book of Romans today, he might begin with “I have Good News and Bad News.” Since he wrote it centuries before that phrase became popular, he just dives in with the bad news.
The bad news is this: We are accountable to God and none of us measures up. He isn’t satisfied with that simple statement. He goes into details over multiple chapters. He starts with the gentiles and when the jews start to feel pretty good about themselves, he turns on them.
It’s obviously important to Paul, that we get this point. Nonetheless, it’s a point we often miss. We really want to jump to the good news. Or we feel better pointing out how others fall short. For example, it’s in this section of Romans that Paul points out those who have abandoned natural things for sex between those of the same sex. But that’s just part of his entire message that ALL have sinned. Folks are real sensitive about this. Just this week the President of a fast food chicken business made the “mistake” of saying his company was pro-family. He didn’t even mention homosexuality, but he and his business are being targeted as discriminatory and hateful. We don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners, but we are. If we don’t accept that fact, then the good news isn’t even news at all. Further, without this bad news, the method of appropriating the good news, which Paul covers later, makes no sense.
Just consider how far we have gone to separate ourselves from the truth of our sinful nature. Haven’t we all said we believe people are basically good? Truth is they are not. That’s the point. We are basically sinful and that’s not good. When someone murders young women, or mows down dozens of folks who were just out to see a movie, many will still look for some excuse for this behavior. They will desperately try to point to something like mental disease or poor upbringing, anything but sin. A liberal commentator jumped to blame the Tea Party. I even heard yesterday a “christian” group claiming the Colorado tragedy was God’s punishment for churches’ support of gays. It might have been His punishment for the churches’ failure to reach out to all sinners, including gays.
When we fail to accept completely the truth of Paul’s Bad News, we distort and undermine the beauty of the Good News. Let’s resolve not to do that any more. The Good News is too Good for us to mess with.