Sunday 17 March 2013

fireplace: What does righteousness look like?

"Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to."
"I tell you, commander, it's true that some of the most terrible things in the world are done by people who think, genuinely think, that they're doing it for the best, especially if there is some god involved.”

Terry Pratchett, Snuff
In a way that's true. Being good is a lot about what you do and so often in the midst of good intentions, of trying to do what is right in our view, we do more damage to others in the name of God.
It's not difficult to be good.
It's difficult to be righteous, i.e.:
1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
a : morally right or justifiable
b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality
In fact, to even be righteous, you need to define morality. What's morally right or justifiable? Is my morality the same as yours? Is the divine law I believe in the same as what you believe? Romans 3 says this:
21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
I am righteous because of Christ. I have been justified by faith. And yet, the thing is that righteousness still has a cost. It's the cost of following Christ.

It's easy to proclaim freedom (which was promised by God) and grace (which is freely available) but forget that in Romans 13:13, Paul also urges us to "behave properly as in the day" and to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts". We forget Romans 14:13b: rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

And I think that's what we forget when we live in our own Christian bubbles so much. We create a culture of our own that has no bearing on the world out there. We create a double level of living and talking for the "sacred" and the "secular". And we forget that whilst the world out there dresses and behaves a certain way and laughs at us because we are so prude and old-fashioned, at the same time, they (often unconsciously) hold a higher standard to us than we do for ourselves.
And every time we forget that, we damage our testimony in their eyes. I'm not saying we need to be perfect. We will never be. But there has to be a consistency in our behaviour and in what we profess.

You know what? I don't even really know why I'm going into this. I don't think it's my main point/bugbear/annoyance. Thing is I grew up in a family where everything you do is scrutinized. It's not a good thing, but it's a fact of (my) life. And because of that, my natural reaction when doing something is to think "what will so-and-so say?"
It's a burden to live under but it's also very relevant to understanding that verse (not to put a stumbling block). Because people's faith sometimes are dependent on others, and that "others" includes you whether you like it or not. And if you, the church goer, the cell leader, the spiritual parent, are living exactly like the world, what difference does it make to be a Christian? How do you tell people to live holy lives when what you do is also seen as"sin" or "bad behavior" in the world's eyes? You may not see it as such because of your freedom in Christ, but sometimes other people do not see it the same way as you do. Because culture and age dictates otherwise.
It's a difficult path to walk and it's very easy to fall into being judgmental and legalistic. But we need to live upright, to be holy as He is holy even as we stand assured in His righteousness.
Ok, I'm meandering and getting lost somewhere. But here's a video.
It's a long video. But worth a watch.

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