In preparation for a grueling day of preliminary work for an impending literature review, I am thinking about righteousness. What is righteousness, how does it function, and what does it mean to Christian thinkers and believers?
Something about living holy, right? Being set apart? Being justified?
We are given the image of a righteous and just God in the Exodus, the Psalms, the letters to Corinth, and much more. We know that God is fully holy. That God is the unadulterated entity for righteous and that we, on our own, cannot become fully God (otherwise, we set an entire civilization up for child pains and working by the sweat of their brow, right Adam and Eve..?)
Yet God calls us to align ourselves with what is right. But how do we recognize that? How do we actualize righteousness? Martin Buber writes a short narrative about a man looking for God. The man asks, “My God, where can I find you, but where can I not find you?” In the quest to align ourselves with what is “righteous”, we need only to look around and look deeper than the surface. There is a bit of God in everyone and everything. Judgments hinder us from see that beauty–the beauty of what is righteous.
Years ago a young writer wrote a prose piece about what it means to become righteous. And it’s kept me up most nights for almost ten years. He expressed that living for God is a like a open heart surgery after a shotgun blast to the chest without antibiotics. God literally has to dig His fingers into our chest to scrape out the infection. But He won’t until we say yes. And only in that moment does our righteousness become manifest in the works of Jesus Christ.
To be clear, I don’t write these little blurps because I have found the rasion d’etre for these theories. I’m too stubborn, too ignorant, and too inexperienced. I write these because at night, when I am supposed to be resting for a day of deadlines and many different agendas, these thoughts steal my sleep.
I’m learning that righteousness is taking a step even when we don’t know where that step leads or if there is solid ground before us because God ushers us out to the deep. And in righteousness there is some level of fear, but there is also courage. Most importantly, there is freedom. We must open our eyes and say, Abba, where can I find you, but where can’t I find you?”