Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Different Kind of Excess

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:20

“You are not being very Christian.” Have these words been spoken to you? They normally come at the moments where you really need God the most, instead people you love are charging that He has abandoned you and you have abandoned Him. Surly, they will remind you that he waits patiently for those that come to him, put away this double life. But really, what makes this any different than trying to earn your way to God? It seems the message is “Do good stuff and God will love you, do bad stuff and he won’t.”

What does it mean to “exceed” the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? At first glance you might think the moralists have some power in this verse, but what is Jesus really saying?

First, Jesus is the only righteous one.
Jesus main point was to reveal that even the most holy rollers in the world couldn’t make the cut. They were in trouble just like the rest of the people in the world. The moral leaders of society were just as lost without Jesus as the down and outers.

Second, Jesus wants to give his righteousness to you. Jesus wants your righteousness to exceed moralism. He wants it to exceed indifference. He wants it exceed anything else of importance in your life. He wants so much more from you than a failed attempt at “doing life right”. He knows, you know, and I know that failure at life is a daily occurrence. I can go from having a great time with my kids in one breath to yelling at them in the next. We fail, we are broken and Jesus cleans the slate daily, hourly, and by the second.

Third, Jesus wants us to be empowered. The excess in righteousness comes from getting out there and attempting to be Christ like. Through the Holy Spirit we can attempt to be patient, kind, loving, humble, self-sacrificing, and all of those great attributes important to building community between one another. However, when we fail, which we will, Jesus will be there to wipe the slate clean, pick us up, and send us back out.

The greatest gift Jesus imposes on us moment by moment is grace empowering us to move forward in his Spirit.

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