When doing the right thing is not the right thing
I am really excited about this new series because I am really excited about being in relationship with Emmanuel! It is what breathes life into my life! Without Him, everything I do is pointless, worthless, depressing, overwhelming, stressful and just hard and yucky. Sometimes, when I forget I am in relationship with the Creator of the Universe it is still those things. When I find myself in those moments, I find myself wondering how I can cultivate a walk with God throughout my whole day, throughout my whole thought-life and throughout all my actions.
What relationship-breathed habits and rhythms can I put into my day so I don’t forget the most important relationship I have, for even a moment? Yep, just a small task! Actually, so often my life has become about tasks which I complete, trying to do them in joy and so often not knowing if I am in God’s will. Sometimes I wonder whether God’s will actually exists in what I am doing (does God have a preference here or is He totally content to inhabit what I am doing just as a father joins in a child's play?). Other times I find myself living in a spirit of striving: striving so hard to be and do right, but failing to actually acknowledge Him and ask His opinion on things. Especially on the little finer details of life.
So what is this series of posts on? Righteousness! Yep, you heard right! Sounds boring right? Just read a little bit further!
Righteousness: that’s all about doing the right thing isn’t it?
Uh, yes and no.
What do you mean, no?!
The Hebrew word we have translated as ‘righteousness’ is צְדָקָה S’daqah or Tzedakah (just some of the variations of spelling!). It is a word that expresses the loving and good deeds that prove and demonstrate a desire for, and a walking out of, relationship. True righteousness is having something to show welling up from oneness in relationship with God. It is the fruit of oneness.
I can be married to my husband legally, but that marriage can even be annulled if it isn’t consummated. A piece of paper may declare my right before God to intimacy with my husband, but it is the acts of intimacy and relationship that prove the marriage. They are the fruits of the legal relationship.
I can be a Christian and have salvation, but it is a daily walk of intimacy and relationship with Him which proves the covenant, the powerful relationship I have with Him. Just as a legal marriage is worthless if it isn’t the basis for a daily relationship of love and intimacy, so my salvation is really worthless (although still standing ‘legally’) if there is no daily relationship of love and intimacy. Who wants a legal marriage with no relationship?! In the same way, who wants a legal relationship with God which has no bearing on our daily lives?
Somehow, righteousness has become associated with striving acts of holiness completely detached from a one-ness relationship with God. But the vary nature of Hebrew S’daqah righteousness implies that those demonstrations of love and right-doing are rooted firmly in and flourish out of a relationship with God Himself.
Let me just reflect on that: If I do something to be right or because I know I should, then it is not righteousness. It is just striving. Outward obedience but stone-heartedness is not righteousness. It is just a ‘white-washed’ tomb. Of course I am not a white-washed tomb! But how often do I just do things because I should without any acknowledgment of Jesus in my heart and mind? No wonder Jesus said that we could perform miracles in His name but yet He could still tell us that He never knew us. It is nothing to do with WHAT we do, but everything to do with HOW we do it.
Here is where I got really excited reading my Bible yesterday. Let’s take the often static and religious word ‘Righteousness’ in our Bibles and see it breathed alive by replacing it with the phrase, ‘by walking out oneness in relationship with God’:
As for me, I shall behold your face [by walking out oneness in relationship with You];
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
And the effect of [walking out oneness in relationship with God] will be peace,
and the result of [walking out oneness relationship with God], quietness and trust forever.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of [one who is walking out oneness in relationship with God] has great power as it is working.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for [walking out oneness in relationship with God], for they shall be satisfied.
How awesome are those verses now?!
Over the next few weeks I want to share with you some of the struggles, strivings, longings, and practical things that are helping me to try to walk out a daily intimate relationship with Jesus. My desire is to live out the oneness Christ has won for me all day every day and I am not there yet, nor do I expect to be until leaving this world. But I do believe that I can experience that oneness of relationship more and more throughout my daily life and that is what I desire.