Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

What is man, that he should be pure, or he who is born of a
woman, that he should be righteous?

Job 15: 14

The answer to this ancient question is that we humans are
neither pure nor righteous. These are not the characteristics and the qualities
of the creature that we are. This state of affairs is not the product of
upbringing and it is not the result of the conditions that we live in. It is
who we are, and we are defined by a very stridently self-absorbed and God
denying existence. The human animal made a determination to leave the orderly
place that God had designed for our safety, nurture, and pleasure; then, we
stepped defiantly out into that broken land of our own choosing where danger,
starvation, and pain are the community’s welcoming greeting.

Despite our efforts to distance ourselves from the righteous
rule of God, we just can’t seem to shake His presence. When all appeared to be
desperately lost; when humanity had reached the point of collapsing under the
weight of its own depravity, God sent Himself into this world. He came not as
an avenger of His rule of law, but rather, He came as the lamb of love who
brings life to all. Christ the perfect and the pure came to live as a member of
this human race, and we will never be the same. People can now relate directly
to God, our Creator and Lord. We can now live in the possibility of pure love
and grace.

In our old humanity, Job’s question has nothing except
negative answers. In the state that we were in at our births, we can never be pure and righteous;
so, we can never draw near to the glory of the all righteous and holy God.
However, through Christ and in His grace, we are brought out of the old and
transformed into the new form of humanity that is crafted by God in His perfect
image. Purity and righteousness should now be our normal state. Selfless love
and fearless grace can be the characteristics that mark and measure our days.

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness,
quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

Unfortunately, the expression “All is right with the world” doesn’t seem to apply to
the real world very often; at least, this is true for the one where I live most
days. First off, all is way too inclusive, then, the world is far too big a
place, and finally, right is just too vague. The absolute complexity of living
and the ridiculously fast pace of life seem to work together to defeat even
the possibility of rightness. Yet, giving in to the idea that life can’t
be lived in a better place does not seem correct either. There is an
internal, an innate drive in people to create a better place to live.
We desire to reside in a just and a fair community where people are valued and
where goodness prevails. This idea that good can prevail over evil is one
of the classic themes of drama, and it is one of the common dreams of
people. We all desire to reside in a world where the bad doesn’t happen,
at least not without reasonable notice.

The words of the prophet seem to be suggesting that God sees this idyllic dream of mine
as possibility, even as promise. He is saying that there can be peace and that
we can live in a quiet place where trust relationships are possible.
However, Isaiah’s key to that desired outcome is righteousness. God wants us to
become the points of righteous, the doers of Christ-like living, in a world
that is spinning out of control. The Lord desires for each of us to draw upon
Him as our source of internal peace and to allow His calming influence to fill
our minds; then, He wants us to interact with the chaos and the distress of our
world with the strength of a quiet, Christ-focused heart. We can trust the Spirit
of God to take us into this day with calm clarity and purpose, and we can have
faith that He will successfully bring us through every twist and turn that we
encounter during our journey.

As we seek God’s peace for the worry and the concern of our hearts, open our minds
to His quiet and confident voice, and trust in His Spirit’s guidance
through the day; then, we will have an influence for Christ in our world.
Individuals and the communities of faith that they engage with can be world
changers at the level that is most important to God. That is, we can touch the
lives of other individual people, and we can influence thinking and policies
that are used to create systems of rule that are just, fair, and caring. So, we
can become people who not only live in that “all is right” world, but
we will be the ones who bring the reality of Christ’s righteousness to