The Right Kind of Justice

Whatever is right, whatever is pure…

 

Now once we mention truth you’d think the spectrum of stuff covered would be met, but Paul goes on to expand that thought to things that are right and pure.  Doesn’t pointing to truth cover everything pure and right?

Yes.  Yet at the same time truth includes things that are evil as well, for there are impure truths we face daily.  Truth points to whatever is rather than the myth or story we build up around it.  For example we might not want to admit we feel covetous of  someone’s property so we decide to build up a justification for our greed and explain away our desire to make ourselves believe the lie (if that’s possible) and fool others into buying our story.  Our rationalization doesn’t make our motives pure nor does it make them right, but they are still true.

The word used for right in the NIV is translated just in the KJV.  I don’t believe it’s any accident these words are related to each other, for whatever is just is also what is considered right as well.  The confusion with these ideals grows out of the fact that we compartmentalize our lives so much we forget the relationship between them, forgetting they are intertwined.  The Greek word denotes the state of being right or right conduct as interpreted by Vine’s.  Yet it isn’t about self-righteousness, a world-based comparison or confidence; rather our state of being right is judged by the standard created by God.

This state of rightness goes hand in hand with that of purity, which by any definition usually means uncontaminated by another element.  For instance, the purity of gold is measured by itself; for gold to be pure all other matter must be removed.  In order for our Christian walk to be pure all other rational ideals must be purged from our operating manual.  Not that we aren’t supposed to be aware or educated in the other ethics, far from it, but our modus operandi must not be based on them.  The measure we use as believers comes from Christ alone, and through His lens we interpret what we know as true.  In other words, what we call “evil” gets its designation from what Jesus calls evil.  Any deviation from His Word is evil by this standard of measurement.

Grace becomes incredibly necessary here because none of us are untainted by the world and therefore our interpretation of truth will be skewed by our sin.  I’ve watched the church flounder with how to live a right-eous life untainted by the world.  The church I grew up in believed and taught that we were to have very little association with the world around us to the point that even childhood friendships were restricted to other kids within the body.  My folks weren’t this strict and seemed to see no sense in that attitude, but no matter, the prevailing practice still influenced the way I thought and acted.

The first inkling I had that something was amiss was when I read 1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  My take on this text is no matter what we strive for in Christ, our understanding of right will be somewhat skewed by our sinful nature.  I’m not saying we can’t find truth or grasp the fact/reality of righteousness, but we must practice what we discover with a humble realization we may not have a clear picture of the truth.  Over the years I’ve relearned many truths taught in the Bible over and over again.  Just when I think a truth is clear and no more can be learned from it I’ll read another text that sheds a greater light on it.  If Paul proclaimed without shame that he hadn’t arrived just yet (and this declaration was made towards the end of his life), then I see no reason for any shame on my part for lacking a full understanding either.

 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18.

 

It’s interesting Paul words it this way for it fits right in with the point I’m trying to make here.  Our ability to see through the eyes of the Spirit comes from taking off the veil of the old covenant’s glory.  The Jews of Moses’ day wanted to block the sight of God from their vision because it not only hurt their eyes and stunned their minds but it convicted them of their sinful/separated condition.  I’ve heard quite a few sermons using this passage in Corinthians to lambaste the reaction of Israel at Mt. Sinai for their fear and revulsion (?) of God’s displayed power.  And maybe the preachers who call them down for it should.  At the same time, I just see us holding onto and teaching the basic elements of grace without any desire to go to a deeper understanding of what it means to experience such a wonder.  Dietrich Bonhoffer declared such a grasp of grace as “cheap” because it never led to greater obedience or sacrifice on our part.

My point is human nature hasn’t changed all that much since those freed slaves turned away from the glory reflected on Moses’ face.  Think about it a minute:  they couldn’t take the glory of God reflected on a human face—a fallen, recovering sinner like Moses—which was barely a minute fraction of the full force of it.  Whenever I begin talking about the things of God as I’m learning them, I’m amazed and disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm or interest within the church at large.  It seems the general populace of the body of Christ wants only so much truth and then feels content to hang out there.

That attitude doesn’t fly with God.  Though many of these juvenile believers will be saved on the Day, they won’t be commended for their disinterest in spiritual depth or growth.  I’ve received plenty of rebukes from even pastors who think I’m too heavy with what I tell people…and granted some of what these people say is true…But I know that anyone who hungers for the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Word of Truth will get weird looks and/or shunned for their enthusiasm.  I had a couple of pastors I’ve served under tell me pointblank, “You’re no preacher, Jon,” in an effort to humble me, I guess.  I don’t know why they felt the need to make this point since I’ve never pursued being in that profession for Christ nor do I attempt to preach at all.  Instead I testify to what I’ve seen and heard; if anything, I consider myself merely a witness to for Jesus.

In my somewhat myopic opinion of these preachers’ expressed views, they said this to me because of some threat they felt with my status as a musician in their church.  Each time I agreed with them, then told them what I’ve written here—in different words, of course, but the message was the same.  I’m not writing this to express my frustration with these men, instead I’m pointing out their need to put me in my place is a sign of competition and immature spirituality.  Those who strive to know God, understand the need to testify about Him.  I’m no preacher, and probably not even a teacher for that matter, I am, however, a seeker of truth and believe that Jesus is the Way to that end.  As a part time worship leader, I stand on a platform where I can say anything I want pretty much.  That gives me power for the few minutes I’m on stage directing musical traffic.  An immature Christian takes this kind of opportunity and uses it to address their pet subjects or peeves, while those growing from glory to glory learn the platform is a place to declare the reputation of God—or, put another way, His work in their lives.

Every place Jesus healed someone just about, they were told to testify to what God had done for them.  A preacher needs to be careful not to squelch this—while at the same time reigning in those like me who might be longwinded.  It’s a delicate balancing act, I know, for I needed rebuke for my unconscious (and thereby inconsiderate) use of time in the worship.  What should have been encouraged was the technique of speaking up for God.  Instead they sought to squelch any expression other than worship through song.  But praise and worship is not just about singing, it also includes declarations of God’s work in our lives and during this time we should  be calling on the body of Christ to speak out what God has done for them.  As a leader in worship, it’s my job to give them permission through my example.  Otherwise it becomes a preacher/worship leader dictatorship and one sided praise from the pulpit where the congregation just becomes a bucket we pour into.  They might join in through singing, but generally it boils down to spiritual entertainment rather than a corporate worship.

Purity is the state of being untainted by selfish ambition, pride of place or need for being center stage.  A person truly seeking God will shun the spotlight of human glory for that of God’s.  In other words, they will use the platform they’re given to reflect His glory and not their own.

I confess I am not pure.  I’m not even sure I’m right.  Where I can say with confidence that I’m on the right path to these truths in Christ is when I rightly divide the Word of Truth.  I desire that ever increasing glory which inspires a hunger for more.  That is growing pure and right.  The just shall live by faith; those who desire purity seek justice; being right means being pure; being pure means being just.

How about you?

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One Response to “The Right Kind of Justice”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Could it be that the church today has a lack of enthusiasm for the word because of how we live? Half-truths and beliefs, become clear when talking to someone who is sold out and understands that although it looks like it’s going okay, it’s only by the mercy of God that any of us stand here at all.

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