A man goes to see a psychiatrist. He tells the psychiatrist his problem; “Dr., sometimes I think I am a wigwam, but sometimes I think I am a teepee.” The psychiatrist smiles and says to the man, “Relax, you’re two tents!”
Sometimes, I feel like this poor patient. I’ll admit it’s hard for me to harmonize the fact that I have been made completely and totally righteous by the work of Christ, yet I am not righteous in my every day life. That is, I try to be a good husband, father, son, citizen, worker and friend, but I find myself falling far short of this.
I want to have more patience and understanding with my family. I want to honor and respect them properly. I want to be like Christ. But, I’m not.
This is not to say that I don’t try. I think I do an o.k. job of filling these various roles. And, sometimes, being called righteous by God through Jesus creates a greater sense that I am not righteous.
But, I long to be righteous; truly.
It is the tension of being simultaneously justified and yet a sinner. Psychology is not enough to fix this kind of broken. I need a crucifixion and a re-birth. I want it. I want Christ to claim me as His project and make me like Him. Not for self-glory, but that others might be given free grace, mercy and love that their lives would be touched by Jesus through my hands and my words.
I want my daughters to look back on their lives when they are older and bless God for their dad.
Paul writes about righteousness in Romans 10, referring to Deuteronomy 30:
5For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
The above seems like an “if-then” statement. And, it is. However, what’s important here is to note that belief is the result of hearing the proclamation of the word. That “word” is Jesus Christ (see John chapter 1) and Him crucified.
It is also hearing the words of institution as the communion bread and wine is consecrated. It is hearing the “snap” of the wafer to remember that Christ’s body was broken for all of your and my sin. It is the hearing of “the blood of Jesus poured out for the remission of all of your sins”. It is hearing the water poured over the infant’s head as the pastor says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
Righteousness, true righteousness is not produced out of following dictates like do not handle, do not touch, do not taste. Instead, God tells us that we are truly righteous because of Jesus Christ’s righteous living and righteous dying for us.
And, as Paul writes, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).
Please Lord, be faithful to this promise to make us righteous through word and sacrament to the glory of your name, Amen.