Your work of righteousness is not so that you can get closer to God, it’s for you to get closer to others.
I could leave this post with that thought and feel fine about it but since I still want to learn how to write better…
The backdrop of all the divisiveness (i.e. politically, ethnically, racially and class) going on in America today is a great canvas to bring forth this point. We yell at politicians. We yell at each other. We reveal our superiority complexes daily when we’re condescending towards those who are different than us. Unfortunately, what we’ve been seeing in society is what James chapter 3 expresses and in particular verse 16. For us to move forward, I believe we need to embrace righteousness. Real righteousness.
Righteousness isn’t a static list of behaviors to do in a vacuum, the term is a relational one; it is demonstrated by how we live to treat other things like the earth, animals and people. You can’t be righteous by yourself; not even God can.
God’s righteousness is only seen in relation to others and towards the goal of creating a family/community. Romans 5 reveals that while we were yet different than God (God is holy), God’s act of righteousness brought us an invitation to enter into communion with Him. And God expects us to duplicate this action in our lives towards everyone we encounter. This is the Kingdom Of God.
We do righteousness for the purpose of building and keeping family. We try not to steal for that purpose. We try to forgive for that purpose. We try not to cheat for that purpose. We try not to gossip for that purpose. We have tough conversations for that purpose. Etcetera. Etcetera.
We would extend grace towards others, not to hide truth but because we have diminished our anger. We see this very behavior in numerous stories in the Gospels when Jesus interacts with the outcasts of those times.
So what am I saying? Am I saying to disregard truth and justice for some kind of one-sided kumbaya moment? No. What I am saying is that in our interactions let’s try to be righteous for the purpose of building family and not to win the argument. Let’s try to reduce the expression of our anger, not because it isn’t warranted, but because it often is filled with sarcasms and exaggerations that’s not helpful for progressing together. Then let’s see what God does through that. Let the Kingdom come.
We are all different, yes, and we are all in different places in our own personal growth in becoming better human beings, but let’s remember that, like stones, differences don’t divide, they distinguish. It distinguishes how much grace you will have to extend towards another. It distinguishes how much anger you may have to release. But it never distinguishes not being part of the family God is building.
If this does not connect with what we want, then we must answer if we really do want the Kingdom Of God here, or just our own?
© 2018, Ira Webbe Jr, all rights reserved