For today’s reading in Romans we might bring two Russians into the conversation.
Fyodor Dostoevsky: “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love” (The Brothers Karamazov).
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” (The Gulag Archipelago).
In short, idolatry not only profoundly insults God, but also profoundly degrades those truly created in God’s image: human beings. As the psalmist puts it:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
they have eyes, but they do not see;
they have ears, but they do not hear,
and there is no breath in their mouths.
Those who make them
and all who trust them
shall become like them. (Ps. 135:15-18)
“For he will repay according to each one’s deeds… For God shows no partiality. (Rom. 2:6, 11). Is this part of our picture of God? Why or why not?