I've recently begun rereading Romans, and already I'm finding it difficult. Not necessarily because of how dense it can be, but because of what I just said - I'm rereading it. Only two chapters in, and what I'm already noticing is that I have to be wary of reading too quickly. I too often overlook the gold that just sits there waiting to be unearthed, simply because I've already worked through this treasury a dozen or so times.
As a self-diagnosed "slow reader", I'm prone to overcompensating, and not slowing down when I need. This time around, Romans 2 has definitely made me slow down... but only because I felt like I got to the end and wasn't "struck" with anything. Not the greatest motives/hermeneutical tactic, I know. But it worked. As I've camped out in this chapter for a couple of days now, I was "struck" by verse 4 earlier this morning. Paul asks "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and patience and forbearance, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"
It's ok to presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience. It is not ok to give yourself over to the apathy of licentiousness and lawlessness, as Jude makes clear. We are to always be striving toward God, ergo, we are to always be turning away from that which distorts or distracts us from God. We should not have some blasé attitude to sin, nor remain in some justification of it due to an ambivalence or uncertainty. Instead, as Jude urges, we should hate the very garments stained by sin.
As a "Baptist", a "Calvinist", and a "seminarian", I am more than aware of the misguided fundamentalisms that attempt to chain us in laws or false-piety and self-absorbed asceticism. But those false gospels are not only in those three arenas. They're everywhere. In every church. In every school. In every temptation. It's the thesis of every lie from the enemy: Distort God's desire for us to live, by showing it as a desire for our bondage. If we believe that, we will inevitably take up our own gospel... which ironically will resort in our bondage.
What Paul addresses here is that the Jews are stopping halfway. They've evidently acknowledged God as being a good God to them - something that I think many of us could learn from - but they've failed to apply such a beautiful revelation to its intended end. As Plato and Lewis have alluded, when we see beauty, we're prone to follow it, leaving behind the dark. To fail at following is to fail at truly acknowledging it.
Are we so enamored by God that we are forsaking all things that distract us from Him? Or are we more infatuated with ourselves that we use Him the same way we do said distractions - convenient gratification? I just want to urge you, Christian, to not be like the audience of Romans 2:4. I want to urge you to enjoy such an enamoring, which forsakes all distractions and distortions, for God truly seeks to do you good.