Beware the danger of you and God talking past each other.
I live in Columbus, Ohio. Five hundred miles away there’s another Columbus—Columbus, Georgia. If I spoke of one place without differentiating it from the other, it could get confusing.
Well, let me go gas up the car and get an oil change, and have my tires rotated. I need to go to Columbus.
My next door neighbor says, huh? Dude, Columbus is right here.
It’s a harmless misunderstanding. I’d obviously be headed to Georgia.
On another note, catastrophe results when we don’t differentiate between God’s righteousness and our own.
Righteousness and righteousness. Same words. Different meanings.
Typical people of the world assume they are “righteous” since they’re on the politically correct side of current social issues. And that’s a terrible assumption, with potentially fatal consequences. The world spells righteousness the same way God does, but its definition sits all the way across the map from His. With the wrong location, what else could we expect, but to arrive at the wrong destination?
We Christians have our assumptions, too, with a righteousness based on behavior, and church. This actually short-circuits our experience of God’s righteousness, leaving us with an anemic religious substitute—one neither worth living nor dying for.
The book of Romans teases out the difference between our righteousness and God’s.
In chapter 10, Paul said of the Jews,
“2they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”
Ignorance of God’s righteousness is problem number one. Problem number two is the unwillingness to submit to it even when we know it. We’d rather cobble together our own values and marinate them in passion and sincerity. But remember, terrorists are passionate, and sincere, too. They aren’t righteous, though.
God’s actual righteousness is embodied in Christ.
Paul says, “Christ is the culmination of the law” (Rom. 10:4). He ends the law of God by fulfilling it. Where the Sabbath was commanded, Christ brings rest. Where kosher diet was commanded, Christ is the bread of life. Where circumcision was commanded, Christ is the cutting off of the fleshly life. Where animal sacrifices were required, Christ is the blood offering for our sin.
Christ fulfills every commandment of law, first on the cross and then in our lives.
Our checkered efforts have never fulfilled anything. In fact, we spend significant time excusing ourselves for the vast non-fulfillment of God’s law in our lives.
Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). We’ve tried every other way, including through the window, or down the chimney. Anything, it seems, is better than submitting to the door. You’ve tried affirming yourself. You’ve tried distraction, by raging against the Orwellian “Thoughtcrime,” or “Crimespeak” of others.
You can stop.
The seamless righteousness of God in Christ is “to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4b).
Unless you’d rather miss the target by five hundred miles.