Oh, the multitude of voices chanting out the rhythm of doctrine…will it ever stop? You must do this, you should try that, just believe and “sow a seed”, my goodness, good intentions rarely hit the mark that they were intended. The truth sometimes creeps up on you like a stalking cheetah waiting for the right time to pounce; you know something is “wrong with the universe” when an idea haunts you. You can hear the melody and feel the beat, but the words just won’t come. And then it hits you; the cat pounces on its prey and the words descend upon you like a heavy rain. The truth becomes so obvious, and has been there, right in front of you, the whole time; you chase around the hint of sunlight, looking for the source and then you swing the door open and are blinded by Grace.
Well, here it is: I wanted to know how to live as a Christian in my deepest self. How does God want me to live? I mean, exactly what should my “core values” be at the deepest level…the foundations He built when He created “me”. We need to live righteously, and the righteous live by faith…that’s what Scripture says. So how do I live righteously? Does “righteous” mean living a good life, obeying the 10 Commandments, loving others, going to church and tithing, steering away from sin, praying often, and “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Because if it is, we’re all in trouble! Then I stumbled across a verse I had read many times and it became alive to me quite out of the blue. That verse had never jumped out at me before; it had always seemed pretty straight-forward in past readings. But now I see. And how beautiful it is!
Romans 4:13-19 is a powerful and complex piece of the divine. It basically explains that God’s promise to Abraham was not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Abraham received God’s promise by believing God:
“He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’” Romans 4:20-22
So the profound relationship here is this: that righteousness is having faith that God keeps His promises and believing that He is able to make good on those promises. Ok, well that’s fine and dandy for Abraham. God said Abraham would be the father of many nations, what does that ancient history have to do with you and I, now and today? The story continues: the next verse states that it wasn’t just for Abraham, but also for us!
“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him alone, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead…” Romans 4:23-24
So in order to be righteous (living “right”), it is our responsibility to believe God’s promises and believe that He is powerful enough to “perform”. And that is just too dang simple, isn’t it? The whole concept for us starts with believing in Jesus Christ (a fulfilled promise) and evolves into an incredible journey of discovering just what God’s promises are for us…today. Jesus said that we should approach Him with the eyes of a child. “Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:17) Let me give you an example as best I can, about how to approach the essence of this truth…
For most of us, we can go back in time to a wonderful Christmas memory and discover some child-like qualities. Remember the anticipation, the build-up, the mystery, the lights and the smells of Christmas-time. Remember seeing the presents all gathered up under the tree for the first time on Christmas morning? We gazed in amazement and pure bliss! In reflection, we can sometimes say that the anticipation and progression to the big moment (hope) was better than the actual presents. In God’s world, the presents are even better than the hope of anticipation because “hope does not disappoint”. God’s promises are our presents under the tree of Christ and all we have to do is open them. We should approach each gift with anticipation and wonderment. What a lot of us do not understand is that opening these presents or promises is our life journey and takes more than just knowing that the promises are there. You have to take the time to explore each promise, take the time to get to know each gift, and most of all love each present as one from the ultimate “gift-giver”. Most of the time, we just look at its beauty but are overwhelmed by its complexity. Gifts like peace, joy, love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, gifts of the spirit, and many others are by nature spiritual promises. We are born to recognize the divine, but are sometimes at a loss to approach it. What good are these gifts of promise if we never open them? How can we believe in promises we know nothing about? We know there are incredible gifts waiting to be opened, but think ourselves not worthy enough or mature enough or strong enough to open the present and discover its truth and beauty. But through the eyes of a child: We can’t wait to tear into them, scattering the wrapping-paper all over the room and oooohing and aaaahing at each present. We don’t analyze, dissect, and ponder the gift! As children, we don’t overcomplicate things…we got presents, we are going to open them!
So this brings me to my final point and attempts to answer my question. At the core of “me” should be the foundation in faith, that God keeps His promises by being loving enough to give them to me and strong enough to make good on those promises. This makes a Christian righteous! I didn’t say it. And our mission in life or how we should live is almost too simple: Approach every gift from God as a present to be opened and we can’t know what those promises are until we get to the awesome task of discovering them. We may have opened a few already, but there are a bunch of them sitting under the tree waiting to be opened. It doesn’t matter what situation you find yourself in, how unworthy you feel, or how confused you feel…simplify your life! Approach God at His Word…That’s our job as Christians, how is that so tough?
Are you righteous?
This I tell you in full confidence, the only thing in life that isn’t too good to be true, is the Good News. Everything else pales in comparison…