"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Could This Be Righteousness?

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6)

A couple of days ago I asked "but what exactly is righteousness" and a few of you shared your thoughts on that. Thanks much!

In that post I was quoting from Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes which is "cultural studies in the gospels," and now I want to share what author Kenneth E. Bailey had to say about hungering and thirsting after righteousness. I will try to summarize what he says on pages 78 to 81.

Referring to Micah 6:3-6 as one example, the author first tells us that "in biblical literature righteousness often refers to mighty acts of God in history to save." Not only does God's saving acts deliver Israel, but it also gives her a new status: being "declared righteous." That is, "vindicated" or "saved." "The unspeakable gracious gift of acceptance in the presence of God requires the faithful to respond." When we realize God has saved us and given our lives this special place, this wonderful relationship with Himself, we respond by saving others. That is, we act justly and that does not mean we merely give each one his due, but we show "mercy and compassion to the outcast, the oppressed, the weak, the orphan and the widow."

The author gives an example of Job who defends himself by saying:

14 I put on righteousness as my clothing;
justice was my robe and my turban.

15 I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.

16 I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger. (chapter 29)

Also the Suffering Servant whom Isaiah describes "will faithfully bring forth justice." (Isa. 42:3)

How God treated Israel in her need was the model for how the children of Israel were to treat others. Therefore, how God treats us in our need is how we are to treat others! Did God offer you forgiveness, kindness, compassion, mercy and unconditional love? Use that model in dealing with others. Was He a father to you, supplying for your needs, taking up your cause when you were a stranger? Go and do likewise.

So let's review. God saves. Therefore we are given a new status - saved, vindicated, affirmed righteous. In response to this new position, go and do as God did for you. Love others, show mercy, help the needy, reach out to the stranger and welcome the outcast. (Look at Jesus for an example!)

And what happens to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness?

This Beatitude concludes, "For they shall be satisfied." This is another case of the "divine passive." God is the one who will satisfy them. For many this is a strange idea. Popularly understood righteousness is no more than adherence to an ethical norm. The person who keeps the law, follows the accepted standards of the community and has an admirable personal life will be respected and thereby satisfied by the community. But if righteousness describes a relationship granted as a gift of God that brings peace, then only God can satisfy the longing for that righteousness and the approval or disapproval of the community is irrelevant. We are not righteous to please our peers but to show gratitude to God and maintain our relationship with him.

8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

What do you think? Could this be righteousness?


Anonymous said...

Hi Susanne...I have a question not related to the post(sorry)

I was just watching something on the History channel and there was someone who said something that really struck me and I would love to know if it's in the Bible or not...The only person I could think who would know would be you :) Could you tell me if you know about this?

He said:

When you see war, destruction, earthquakes and flood then you will know I am standing at the door waiting to come in ~Jesus

Did Jesus say this? Is it something in the Bible-a verse perhaps?

It just touched me in a way that I can't even explain this morning. I'd appreciate any help with this.

Thank you...hope you have a wonderful day

p.s. Thanks for your reply to my comment-you're such a beautiful soul. May God bless you!

Susanne said...

Hey, Shell, good to see you! It's always a pleasure to have you drop by. :) That isn't a Bible verse although it could very well be a summary of some of Jesus' ministry/teachings on earth. He always told us to not worry about things, not to be fearful and that in him we could have peace even though the world is in shambles. So although not a direct quote, I'd say the idea is there. Thanks for asking about this. It seems an interesting show you saw.

Hope you are having a good week and that your computer is fixed soon so you can visit more. It's good getting to better know you.

God bless you, too! :)