Advent Day of Hope – Clueless in Rome
Rome was the capital of the Roman empire and was ruled by Caesar Augustus, nephew of Julius Caesar. Augustus had built a mighty empire – not just in land holdings and countries conquered, but he also built Rome into a magnificent ‘eternal city’ it became known as.
Rome was 2500 miles away from Bethlehem, and even though this little village (six miles south of Jerusalem) was a part of the Roman empire, nobody in Rome really cared about it. Because of the small Jewish population in Rome, Judaism – or monotheism – was not a concern for the Romans. The spiritual and cultural attitude of the Romans at that time was much like the attitudes of American culture today, and that can be shown in three distinct ways – three beliefs or principles embraced by the Romans that defined them and kept them from seeing the significance of Christ’s birth (besides being spiritually dead, as all unbelievers are).
- Rome believed in looking inward and not outward (and definitely not ‘upward’). People were more concerned with themselves; their success; their personal growth; with the so-called ‘divine’ within themselves; or more specifically, with the mystique, and cultural influence of the Roman culture, politics, and the ‘god-like’ worship of their leaders – past and present. There was no desire to look to an ancient prophecy about a coming Jewish Messiah/King because, if He wasn’t a part of Rome, then He offered nothing of importance to them. The world (America) we live in is so self-absorbed and ‘me-centered’ (or ‘the American Way’) that they are blind to Someone outside and above themselves. Don’t be like Rome. Worship the True God of Above, Who desires to live within.
- Rome believed it had everything it needed. They saw no need for Jesus – no need for a Savior – no need for forgiveness – because Rome provided everything they ‘needed’. They had money, prestige, god-like leaders, entertainment, culture, affluence and influence. But with all that, they were still dead inside because they didn’t “need” and didn’t see their need for something greater – to be forgiven – to be reconciled with the Creator of the Universe – to be made right before the Holy, Just, and Righteous God. So they remained spiritually dead and empty. Our society – our friends, family, and neighbors – because of the spiritual deadness of their souls and spirits – do not see; cannot see; nor do they want to see this need (as Romans 1 and 8 clearly teach). Don’t be like Rome. Be aware of our constant and desperate need for the Lord in all things, and be grateful that through His grace we have been made right with Him, and through Him all of our needs (and even many of our wants) are met.
- Rome believed that power was stronger than love. As the mightiest of all empires – full of wealth and military strength – the people of Rome and the empire believed they were the ‘eternal city’ that would always rule and reign supreme. It was conceivable that a poor baby born in a small village 2500 miles away to a carpenter and young wife could be ‘more powerful’ and that He would be able to provide what the people wanted/needed. But as we know (Romans 8:35-39) the Love of God as it is found in Christ Jesus is far more powerful than a million mighty human armies, and Christ displayed that power AND love when He defeated death – on His own – for the sake of His children. And our world – and country – believe that strength and power are what will keep order and bring contentment, but only love – God’s love found in Christ – can set the captive free and bring with it the true Spirit of Resurrection Power into our lives. So, don’t be like Rome. Love Christ, love others even as you love yourself, and rest in the power of our Great God and King.