Righteousness and Love
By Rev. Caroline Osborne
In my Zoom Bible study this week, we explored the biblical idea of “righteousness.” It was a wonderful and profound conversation, so much so that I want to invite you into it, even if you were not able to attend that Bible study. It has so much to say to us in this season we are living in.
For most of us, when we think of righteousness, we think of rule-following. And that is a part of righteousness – living in accordance with God’s revealed will. But rule-following alone is just legalism. Without its heart, righteousness quickly becomes pharisaical. What is the heart of righteousness, the core of what it means to be righteous in the way the Bible talks about it? The heart of righteousness is right relationship with God, living in loving imitation of his character.
Jesus restored us to a good relationship with God through his life, death, and resurrection; he gave us and continues to give us his righteousness. And now that we are in that right relationship with God again, the Holy Spirit in us moves us to want to live in imitation of God’s character, to be more and more like Jesus. Righteousness in our hearts and souls will inevitably play out in our lives and actions. As God makes us more and more like him, we will begin to share his heart for the world. God loves the lost and the least, the suffering, the oppressed, and even those who have turned away from him.
So why did I say that the idea of righteousness has so much to say to us right now? Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” As I think of all of those who have lost loved ones to the Coronavirus, have lost their lung health to the disease, have lost their jobs or income to the lockdown, or simply are terrified of what the future holds, it strikes me that there are many, many brokenhearted people, many people “crushed in spirit,” right now. If we are living and growing in righteousness through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, then we are going to care about those people. Righteousness in 2020, in part, means looking for ways to love our brokenhearted neighbors.
Your first step could be to donate some toilet paper and paper towels to the group home when you come to pick up your Eucharist cup, or maybe give some money so those girls can have an outing. And your next step is to keep your eyes, and ears, and heart open to see all the people God loves around you, and to hear him as he is calling you to love them with your heart, your mind, and your actions.