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Righteousness? – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark Brown

Hosea 10:1-3; 7-8, 12
Psalm 105:1-7
Matthew 10:1-7

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”  Words of Hosea. I’m not sure just why, but I find that word “righteousness” one of the more irritating words of the Bible. It’s a word used a lot but the Bible doesn’t come with a glossary of definitions. Perhaps my discomfort with the word is that it is so close to the word “self-righteousness”. 

Or, maybe it’s because it’s a word we can’t actually use with confidence to describe anyone in particular. We might recognize words or deeds as righteous, but who can we say is truly and fully righteous? Who are we to say who is unrighteous? And doesn’t the sun shine and the rain fall upon the righteous and the unrighteous? And, doesn’t Christ himself call as his followers the righteous and the unrighteous? Don’t we all at times walk in the footsteps of Peter, who denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times? Don’t we all at times walk in the footsteps of Matthew, who made common cause with an oppressive system? Don’t we all—sooner or later–walk in the footsteps of even Judas, the betrayer?

I’m guessing Jesus saw the righteousness of Matthew the tax collector and even Judas the Betrayer.  I’m guessing Jesus saw the unrighteousness Peter was capable of, though he became first among the apostles. Jesus sees both the righteousness and unrighteousness of which we are capable. He sees the weeds growing among the wheat in the human heart. He knows the messiness of the human condition, especially when looking upon what the eyes cannot see.

But righteous—whatever that means—is what we are to become. We are being led to righteousness—whatever that is, wherever it is. Righteousness is part of that perfection, that completion that belongs to a new order of being. It’s a place I think we’ll recognize when we get there, wherever “there’ is.  In the meantime, best to realize we’re still on that life-long journey into the fullness of life.And good to come here for refreshment for the road ahead.

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