Tuesday, August 19, 2008

not my own righteousness

To be like Jesus, in Scripture is to be like Paul, to some extent. And to follow Paul as he followed Christ involves not having a righteousness of our own, but Christ's righteousness, or the righteousness from God which comes through faith in Christ.

Paul states in the Philippians 3 passage that his desire was to be found in Christ. This seems to be something that Paul was not taking for granted.

In our evangelical world it seems to me that we do take this for granted. Once someone "accepts Christ" they are "in Christ" and this is no longer a concern. Unless I'm reading this passage wrongly, for Paul it was a passion. Paul knew what it was like to be righteous in his own efforts in keeping God's law. He followed the prescribed keeping of the law, faultlessly. There surely was a sense of failure though in seeking to keep the law. I think I see echoes of this in Romans 7, which I think looks at life in seeking to keep God's law apart from Christ and without the help of the Spirit. I believe the "I" there is a personification common in that time in writing, for humankind's efforts to keep God's law written outwardly and inwardly.

Oftentimes I have wondered about myself. I have been a Christian now for many years (nearly 35!), but so much of the time I have been more taken up with my own efforts to live the Christian life. Of course in that is failure, although "in Christ" God is always at work in us.

But like Paul, I want to no longer take this for granted. I want to be found in Christ and I want to know Christ better. I want my life to be answerable to Jesus Christ. Of course there is much involved in that, not least of which is our union in the Body of Christ with others who are in Jesus.

What about you? Do you see this as a concern in your life as a Christian? Do we take this for granted when maybe we should not? Why or why not?

Tomorrow: "Sugar Face - forgiveness" from L.L. Barkat, Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places

10 comments:

preacherman said...

I still can't believe that people stive to be righteous by their own works. After years of ministry and relationship with Christ I am glad I share in his rightousness. His holiness. Not of my own but of His wondereous grace!
Ted wonderful words for us to take into our hearts today.
Thank you for such a wonderful post.
I hope you have a great day brother!

Rachel Mc said...

I don't think people strive to be righteous by their works so much as they have a need to "get it right" To be the "correct" christian. What is that? No clue, but some days I think I should of went to seminary instead of getting an accounting major..maybe then it would all make sense to me.
I think the average person in the pew wants to be the best christian they can, not unlike their career, or hobby or parenting. Its just that the concept of being "always a sinner in God's eye, always coming up short" is hard to grasp when you are brought up to always do your best. Maybe because when you are in ministry, God is always on your mind 24/7, not unlike my work sometimes is...maybe I need to have God on my mind 24/7.

Mike said...

Grace is an amazing thing. The Apostle Paul understood his responsibility after conversion (living a spirt-filled life), while at the same time being about grace.

IMHO, this seems to be where we are lacking. Most Christians today live on one end of the "spectrum" or the other. We live by the law (forgetting we can't by ourselves) or we live with "cheap grace." The challenge is to understand our responsibility towards conversion while at the same time understanding when we do sin, God's grace prevails.

Thanks Ted!

NaNcY said...

i think that i take a lot of things for granted.

when i was a little bit younger, i thought the phrase was actually, taking something for "granite". it's true! but, you know, that is how we all talked in southern illinois when i was growing up. so you can see why i misunderstood, and actually, it does make sense that way, if you think about it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, Kinney.

I'm not sure I've met too many like that, though they must surely be out there somewhere.

I do think though that people can depend on thinking they're good enough, or not that bad, and lose out in not having the righteousness by faith in Christ, they need to have.

Thanks, brother.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Rachel,
I see what you mean. Often people seem to think they have being a Christian down better than another or others, or that their church or denomination has it down better. Both are a departure from Christ in some way, I think.

Seminary is great but through the "Jesus Creed" blog you can learn alot from Scot McKnight and the books he shares on, even as I think you're the one who wrote today on his blog from a book.

If we learn to abide in Christ (John 15) in the sense of abode or being at home in him and he in us, it matters not what we're doing. We can be occupied completely and necessarily so with something else, but we're in that fellowship and communion with him. I'm not saying I've arrived on that, or even know it as I should, because I don't, but I believe it's so. Not to doubt God in the hard and hidden places, because this is so much where we live, and we need grace everyday, since we so often run up against such.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Mike,
Great balance in your comment- and good words, and I so much agree! In fact I was thinking of those two extremes, I believe, when posting this, and just didn't work that in the post.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
It's good to take the right things for granite/granted! :)

I think Scot McKnight was right when he said something like this, I think on a comment on his blog "Jesus Creed". He was raised Baptist and he remarked that many Baptists he had known did not believe in perseverance of the saints. That they skipped over that in their belief of eternal security, simply thinking they were assured for heaven because they had been saved at a particular point in time. But I don't think Scripture teaches us that way. Faith must be ongoing, not just something in our past.

Thanks, and keep the granite on some things, for sure.

Every Square Inch said...

If Paul could not attain righteousness apart from Christ, what hope do I have. Yes - to be found in Christ now and on the Final Day - that's what it means to be a Christian

Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI,
Amen. Interesting that Paul saw himself as the chief/worst of sinners. I think he saw God's glory in Christ clearer than most anyone else and in that light he saw just how far short he fell. He was getting to the true intent and heart of the Law/Torah, in Christ.