For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
I was disturbed while reading a news article before Christmas. It said that stores were bracing for all the many people that would be coming back to exchange their gifts. Of course, some would return or exchange items because they did not fit. Unfortunately, most will exchange their presents because they don’t like what they received. It stems most often from a lack of gratitude.
Humans have a long history of ingratitude. It is in our nature to feel we deserve better. Paul is telling the Roman church the problem that plagues the world around us. We have exchanged the glory of a God that is forever for a multitude of temporary things. It is a problem that never really leaves us. Even when we know Christ as a reality, slowly we start to creep towards those things honor us, we can create, or we feel we can control.
God knew that we have a propensity to trade God for the wrong things. God meets our exchange with what theologians call, “The Great Exchange.” While we trade a glorious God so often, He traded His Son for us.
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe us with it, and fill us with it. And He has taken our evils upon Himself that He might deliver us from them… in the same manner as He grieved and suffered in our sins, and was confounded, in the same manner we rejoice and glory in His righteousness.”
–Martin Luther, Werke
Take on today and tomorrow knowing, that in Christ, He exchanged His life for yours. He no longer sees the ugliness of your sin. Instead, Jesus looks upon you and sees the beauty of His righteousness!