For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

No Matter how We Try to Justify It, Being Self-Righteous is Wrong

Yesterday I left you with this edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger promising to tell you the difference between self-righteous and Jesus' righteousness.

It really isn't complicated, but it is...well, it is intrusive...and uncomfortable. Oh, let's be honest. A lot of the time we just don't like it because it could, and often does, mean we are incredibly wrong when we want to be right-eous. Really, that is what self-righteousness is. It is wanting to be the one who is right. It has nothing to do with righteousness, except for our own view of ourselves being better than someone else or having some unspoken right to getting things our way.

So what does it really mean to be self-righteous? It means you take offense at people who are not like you. Because you are right, and they aren't, so you get offended. It's that simple.

What does that look like in real life?
We don't like people who like different sports teams than us.
Shoot, we don't even like people who like different sports than us.
We don't like people who like different music...
...wear different style clothes...
...wear different makeup... different trucks...
...have different political views...
...have different faith views...
...won't go along with our ideas for this event or that event... in a different part of town...
...use different words...
...have a different accent...
...have too many kids...
...don't have enough kids...
...public school...
...private school... meat...
...won't eat meat...
...doesn't clean their house enough... way too obsessed with cleaning their house...
...writes blogs that are too long...
...writes blogs that are too close to home...
...writes blogs that look like...our-self...

Pick ANYTHING. We can be offended by it. You know why? Because we have the audacity to think we are all that and then some and those people need to bow to our likes, opinions, and personality.

There. Not so pretty and regal looking when I say it like that, is it? Suddenly that right-eousness looks kind of self-aggrandizing, self-centered, self-worshipping, and self-ish. Kind of makes us the one on the throne, doesn't it?

Oh, trust me. I already here the arguments about how that isn't true. That isn't what really is going on. That is...offensive. So you know, I know the arguments because I've used all of them, and sometimes, I pull them out just to walk them around the neighborhood and see if they will work on my latest I-want-it-to-be-all-about-me venture. The truth is, though, we have two simple options: defend our right to be self-righteous or confess it, repent of it, and put it down so we can take up Jesus' righteousness.

Jesus didn't compromise Truth, but He also didn't get petty about the unimportant things. I don't recall reading where He ever got offended by the size of someone's house, the color of their clothes, or what they served Him. I don't recall Him getting offended because someone didn't use the right title for Him or not stepping aside so He could pass or not knowing who He was or not putting Him on a high enough pedestal. That isn't what He was about. He was never offended by someone who didn't smell good enough or didn't make themselves worthy of His presence or wasn't morally on His level. On the contrary, He embraced the leper, went to a cemetery at night to find a lunatic, and took the long way around to find the wayward woman at the well.

See, righteousness isn't someone else agreeing we are right. Righteousness is our agreeing that God is right.

Jesus was righteous because He went about His Father's business and did what His Father said was right.

"What exactly was that?" You may be wondering.

Jesus focused on the important things, like souls.
He became the servant.
He humbled Himself.
He never forced His way.
He didn't take someone else' choices personally.
He was open to relationship with anyone who sought it from Him.
He didn't find a reason to find a offense.

That last one is a biggie. In John 3 we read about Nicodemus.
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him...

That last sentence. Jesus answered him.

Now, here is the way I might want to answer him if it were me. "Seriously? First of all, how can you even be a Pharisee? How can you not see the hypocrisy and lies? How can you live with yourself and be a Pharisee? Really?! And you come here by night? Do you have no backbone? Are you that scared?" I'm being real here. I would take up my offense and make such a parade of it Macy's would be calling for event planning tips.

But here is what Jesus does. "He answered and said to him..." Granted, He does ask a few lines later how Nicodemus knows so little when he is supposed to be a religious teacher. I used to think this was a huge slam statement, but  I don't think so now. I think whatever tone Jesus used, it wasn't cruel or demeaning because, one, Jesus is neither cruel nor demeaning, and two, Nicodemus keeps talking to Him.

Look closely at the rest of the conversation.

"There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?"
Notice that Nicodemus starts by talking about Jesus, and instead of making it about Himself because really, if the guy believes Jesus is the Messiah than why isn't he walking away from viper pit and dumping all the phylacteries and becoming a disciple and worshipping Jesus like he should and....? No. Jesus doesn't do any of that. Instead, Jesus says, "Let's talk about the real issue: salvation. THAT is what I'm about, getting people right with God, not getting them to say I'm right."

 It isn't what you think of me but whether you are right with God.

And notice Jesus didn't get lost in the faith details. He focused on the necessity of faith itself.

I'll tell you the truth. This is my altar address lately. God keeps asking me to crawl on the altar, die to my opinions, die to the rights I think I have, and focus on the important thing: faith unto salvation. This isn't an easy place to live, but it is the right place to live. It is the righteous place to live.

Monday I'll tell you what I'm learning on the altar and some of the blessings of being incinerated.

Until then...

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
may He make His face shine upon you,
and may He give you peace.
Shalom, y'all!

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