Romans 1: What Should Be Obvious
Romans is a powerful book, and right away we get to some very foundational concepts of a Christian worldview.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Rom 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
It is not hard to look at the universe and marvel about creation. We live in an amazing world, and I think there is something significant to the fact that it seems like every culture around the world had developed a type of creation story. Certainly, there are differences between the stories, but it seems that Paul was trying to get at the fact that people understood that there was some type of God out there who was made evident through creation.
They obviously would not have known the entire Hebrew Scripture that provides information on who God is. However, they could have seen that He was remarkably powerful, gigantic, artistic and intelligent among a variety of other characteristics.
However, that is not what these people did. They made idols. They created a god that they could control. They made a god that was small even though the evidence of nature would seem to indicate that God needed some of the characteristics I listed above. I think about the Greek pantheon. Sure, the gods had some supernatural powers, but they were also very human. They did not have half of the characteristics of our God.
It seems to me that it was really a control issue. We like to think that we important, and even though that tendency might be growing worse, I don’t think that it is a 21st-century development. People have always thought they were pretty important, and people have always liked to be in control. By recognizing the type of God I described above as evident in nature, it should be obvious that there is something far greater than us out there. Regardless, people made idols. They diminished the greatness of what they saw.