For the LORD is righteous;

hr loves righteous deeds;

the upright shall behold his face.

Psalm 11: 7

 

Whether a person is a follower of Christ or not, the first statement in this verse receives almost universal acceptance. The challenge comes in how each of us understands the meaning of that concept. For me, God’s righteousness is the core of His being. It is the platform from which He has done all that He has engaged in, and it is the basis for all that God brings about today. The Lord is right in all that He thinks and in every action that comes out of those thoughts. His state of being right is not grounded in His strength, positional power, or superior capacity. Rather, the righteousness of God is motivated into action by His overwhelming love for all of creation.

 

Because of this great love for all, God is saddened to the point of grief by the way that we treat each other and this world that He has provided to sustain us. The anger and the violence of people stands in stark contrast to the love that God pours out on us and that He desires for us to operate out of as the basis for our engagement with each other. The righteousness that God calls people to embrace is never angry or violent, and it does not seek to gain power or control over others. The righteousness of Godly people is not judgmental, either. Instead, it speaks truth without fear, and it seeks to bring all of the people that it encounters into the presence of Christ.

 

It is in this ongoing process of living out of and of entering into the righteousness of God that His people grow in our knowledge and our understanding of who our Lord truly is. Living in the center of God’s will can be hard and challenging, and it can lead to many forms of loss in this world. However, it is also the most rewarding way that people can live. The rewards are found in the certainty that comes from the platform of truth that is contained in God’s Word and through the revelation of that truth by His Spirit. They are also expressed in the reassuring presence of the Spirit who speaks the love of the Father to the hearts and the minds of all who follow the Lord.

Advertisements

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6: 68, 69

 

Jesus had just asked Peter if he was with Him only for the show, for the fun of feeding crowds and hearing the praises of many, or was Peter going to stick with Jesus through the hard teaching on personal righteousness and when the crowds would first melt away and then turn hostile. Peter answers that he will stay with Jesus. If we are honestly engaging Jesus in our own lives, we are going to encounter times when what He says and the things that He tells us to do will be challenging, convicting, disturbing, and conflict with what we have been doing and thinking. Jesus challenges the normative behaviors and attitudes of this world. He does this because this world has devolved into a place where God’s way and rule are at best ignored and often are ridiculed.

 

All of us have to make choices that are very much like Peter’s. We get to make these sorts of decisions every day, for there will be situations and relationships where God’s way of living will collide with our prior practice and with the way that others expect us to behave. Each time that we are faced with this sort of situation, we have an opportunity to make a choice regarding whose voice we listen to and which approach to life we adopt. When we do this we are also telling everyone around us something about ourselves, and we are telling them something about the way that we hold our relationship with God.

 

Thus, every time we choose to follow God’s way; when we choose to set aside our rights for the good of others, decide to forgive and to seek understanding, open our hearts to the unlovely, and surrender our wills to the calling of Christ, we claim a small part of this hostile world for God’s Kingdom. We also provide a tangible picture of Jesus’ love and grace to the people that we interact with. Choosing Jesus and His righteousness is something that each of us gets to do over and over again throughout every day. Yet every time that we follow in His way regardless of how hard that may be, we grow closer to and more intimate with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

1 Corinthians 6: 12

 

As we are in Christ and He dwells within us, we gain a very great deal of freedom. There is something truly liberating about the presence of God as it becomes a part of the very essence of who we are. God is present in our entire world in that His engagement, control, and concern have never departed from it. Yet, a profound change happened when God, Himself, became human and joined us in our literal walk through life for those few years. Prior to Christ’s coming, people were required to reach out to God and to seek to follow His stated rules for righteous living by applying the Law to their lives. Although personal righteousness was actually achieved only through seeking to know God well and by following His leading in every aspect of life, humanity became increasingly oriented toward the application of the written law as the way and the means for living properly. In so doing, we drifted away from knowing and following God.

 

The mystical was much harder to grasp and to understand than was the tangible that was found in the Law. Since the Law seemed harsh and most people found that it was very difficult to follow, we devised new ways of thinking and of contemplating what was, in fact, righteous. Among these new ways of thinking was one where we developed a concept that essentially separated that which was related to our physical lives from that which was a part of our spiritual existence. In this way of thinking, our bodies could do almost anything that we found pleasing as our spirits were not a part of those activities. This is a form of rationalization that is still with us. We segregate our religious or spiritual lives from our secular ones so that it is difficult for people to see Christ in our daily living. Yet, it is this dichotomy that Christ’s coming, His incarnation, works to eliminate from the lives of followers of God.

 

Although we are no longer bound by the Law and its very specific code of rules, we should be truly constrained by a more exacting standard. As Christ is in us, we are required to live under God’s design for an inside to out, a heart based, rule of life. In this new form of relationship with God each of us is set free from the need to gain God’s approval by our external actions, and we are granted by His grace the ability to determine what is good, beneficial, and worthwhile. Yet, this very freedom is tempered by the command that all that we think, say, and do needs to be engaged in for the glory of God. In simple terms, in Christ we are redeemed from lives that were condemned to sin and death, and we are being transformed from being creatures who lived out of the imperative of our lostness into ones who are in the totality of the image of God. This is a process that is benefitted when we choose to set aside thoughts and actions that we find personally pleasing in order to engage in ones that truly bring glory and honor to Christ.

 

 

 

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.”

John 6: 68, 69

Jesus had just asked Peter if he was with Him only for the show, for the fun of feeding crowds and hearing the praises of many, or was Peter going to stick with Jesus through the hard teaching on personal righteousness and when the crowds would first melt away and then turn hostile. Peter answers that he will stay with Jesus. If we are honestly engaging Jesus in our own lives, we are going to encounter times when what He says and the things that He tells us to do will be challenging, convicting, disturbing, and conflict with what we have been doing and thinking. Jesus challenges the normative behaviors and attitudes of this world. He does this because this world has devolved into a place where God’s way and rule are at best ignored and often are ridiculed.

All of us have to make choices that are very much like Peter’s. We get to make these sorts of decisions every day, for there will be situations and relationships where God’s way of living will collide with our prior practice and with the way that others expect us to behave. Each time that we are faced with this sort of situation, we have an opportunity to make a choice regarding whose voice we listen to and which approach to life we adopt. When we do this we are also telling everyone around us something about ourselves, and we are telling them something about the way that we hold our relationship with God.

Thus, every time we choose to follow God’s way; when we choose to set aside our rights for the good of others, decide to forgive and to seek understanding, open our hearts to the unlovely, and surrender our wills to the calling of Christ, we claim a small part of this hostile world for God’s Kingdom. We also provide a tangible picture of Jesus’ love and grace to the people that we interact with. Choosing Jesus and His righteousness is something that each of us gets to do over and over again throughout every day. Yet every time that we follow in His way regardless of how hard that may be, we grow closer to and more intimate with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Chrsit.