To follow up from this post:
For some reason righteousness is a constant thing on my heart and blog too. From this previous post, you're right Minnow... I do have high expectations. Your comment threw me off guard and caused me to really have to examine myself. Thank you SO much for it. I believe that if you knew me in person and knew my personality you would realize that those expectations I have are not dangerous because they are not my expectations on myself... not expectations on others..... let me share what I found...
I really believe I've been gifted with discernment. I think that's the right word? The ability to have a clear and distinct knowledge of right and wrong... to be able to discern what is from God and what is not. Very clear convictions..... but some in the world tell me (including many modern churches) that having strong moral convictions is wrong. That there really should be no attention to them so not to offend others....Then we have this other distinct group that only focuses on morality and being better/doing better because we need to try harder. They focus on looking better and looking like we have high morals to others.... worrying about the outside and not the inside.... both have it way wrong in my opinion.
This first group (mostly young people for some reason) believe that when Jesus came and died for our sins --- He "threw out" morality. He made our sin have no consequences. He demolished any sort of moral code. That we shouldn't even talk about morality. I disagree. From what I read Jesus did not abolish any moral code. He gave us an example to live up to and move toward. He gave us a goal -unreachable on earth - but an extremely worthy goal for us to strive for with the power of the Spirit.
God continued to point me to this passage. Matthew 5:17-18. I read it over and over and over and over again.
What I realized was that I DO have high expectations.... but it's not of my own power. I have REALLY HIGH and HUGE expectations for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. The cleansing & healing power of Jesus. I have searched and searched through all the miraculous things Jesus did while on earth and it just amazes me how much change He brought. I mean the people He healed were RADICALLY healed and changed. Like never the same again - a totally new person, unrecognizably different..... and I thought - but that's the same power we have now! I am not even talking about physical healing at all. I'm talking about the power of the Holy Spirit & Jesus's ability to cover over our ugliness. The ability to help us become more and more righteous and more like Jesus every day.
So many of us are not tapped into this power. Are we scared of 'looking' legalistic? Scared of failure? We will fail, always. We will never arrive... but why are we so scared to fail? Failure is okay. Mistakes are how we learn. It really is okay to fail. God sees us trying and Jesus is always there to bandage us up and steer us back to the path. Just because our goal of righteousness is an unreachable goal doesn't mean it isn't worthy of our efforts, right?
Jesus took on sin and became sin for us. He DID make it possible for our sins to have NO eternal consequence to us.That I do agree with. I will go to heaven purely because I believe in Him not anything I will do here. I believe that we do now have CREDIT for Jesus' righteousness in God's eyes --- and Jesus now has the BLAME for our sins.
BUT.... I don't for a second believe that sin has NO consequence. In fact, I believe our sins have huge drastic consequences in life. I DO believe in absolute morality not relative. I believe our sin keeps us away from God's blessings. Yes He can and will turn around everything for the good. Romans 8:28. but I believe our sin-detours will delay blessings and delay being most effective for God. I don't believe morality is relative, I believe that there is a morality and righteousness demonstrated by Jesus that we are to do whatever we can to get closer to. I do believe it IS our calling to allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us daily to become more and more like Christ.
He IS the only one that will be perfectly righteous... but God wants us to strive to be morally pure right? He loves us like we are perfectly righteous; forgives us like we perfectly are; accepts us into heaven like we are perfectly righteous.... so I want to do everything I can to get closer to that standard - I want to allow His power into my life. I want to be cleansed, daily since I sin daily.
We need to stick up for righteousness and that goal!! YES too many people for too long worried about OTHER's people immorality & pointing it out to them. Too many churches for too long tried to be righteous in their own power without the spirit & without giving credit to Him (so became very self-righteous and unmerciful).....so it's caused a lot of confusion and rebellion. It's caused a lot of us younger generations to rebel against righteousness at all.
but to love righteousness, to strive for it, is not being legalistic!
I truly believe that the closer we come to Jesus' standards, the more we experience the blessings of God!
The way to do this - to become more and more righteous, I think is a little by little...daily thing. By immersing ourselves in His Word & learning how to listen to the Spirit. To have high expectations on the power of the Spirit in our lives. The same power that raised people from the dead... can change us daily! The girl who could never control her temper before CAN be lead and controlled by the Spirit and not her emotions (sorry that's just one experience from my life that really is such proof to those around me that Jesus's changing power is real!!)... We don't have to be the same old us we always were. We can be totally new!
Let's be real with ourselves and check the spiritual condition of our hearts. Are we sacrificing righteousness because of the unconditional love of our father? We underestimate His power? We are relying on ourself? We are denying there is such a thing as righteousness? Are we complacent because we are saved? Why aren't we striving?
The only way I see we could be 'legalistic' and like the pharisees is if we are focusing on the outside actions - by focusing on trying to be good on our own. The way to righteousness is a battle and it's a constant changing from the inside out. Clearly a disciple of Jesus is different on the outside though right?
Matthew 23:25-26. Jesus isn't teling us morality is bad. That we don't have to worry about being righteous.... is He? Isn't He telling me that change happens from the inside out. That HE will do the changing and my actions and outside will reflect what's happening inside???
I want to 'take back' discipleship in our generation and find more willing wanting to become more like Jesus every day. Let's continue to allow Him to produce tangible, positive change in our lives so we can shine that light into the world and give Him the praise & glory for it. Let's acknowledge how poor we are in spirit, how dependent we are on Him for change. Let's never stop trying. Let's not lower the standards because they are unreachable. Our failure will keep us from being prideful.
We are getting better at building communities & loving on each other....Getting better at being merciful & not self-righteous......but what about everyday healthy discipleship - changing from the inside out? Taking on Jesus' righteousness as our own. Accepting that gift.
Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge & dismiss our older traditional christian brother and sisters... there's a lot we could learn from them....
some more thoughts on:
how to be IN but not OF the world:
Being the salt in our culture:
relative morality/ relative morality