The example that I used with them was their sibling. Let’s say that you and your brother did the same thing wrong, but you were punished and he was not. That is not fair, right? Right! The cries were deafening.
This will not happen when we stand in front of God. Psalm 98:9, “…at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.” All humans will stand in front of the same throne and bear the same judgment.
I like the idea of justice. The bible gives us the Commandments laid out beautifully in Exodus 20. I, also, like color coding and new pencils. Everything exact and linear has a comfortable draw for me. I like that God gave me the rules ahead of time, and that He is going to hold me to that standard and everyone else will be held to that same standard. No sibling will get away with anything.
But then…I think of the application of all of this.
See, I am such a rule follower that I also feel that I deserve recognition now and then…for being so good. You know the express line at the grocery store? I do not appreciate the over 10 item people sneaking into my territory on the rare occasion that I manage to leave with less than 10 items.
There is the occasion that the store is empty and the lady will summon me to the 10 or less items area, where I know that I do not belong. My first response is sort of an eyebrow raise as I look up at the sign and then back at her, like it is a long rope bridge impossible to cross as a mere mortal. She needs to know that I don’t qualify to cross the divide.
Rightfully, I don’t belong there, but…I am SO good most of the time, you see. My second response is sort of a grateful monologue, espousing the fact that I would never under normal circumstances, but if she insists…
I, kind of, feel like I have a right to that. I am not a member of the, “I just can’t count in the grocery store line”, Club of America. I like people who like to follow rules. When I do have the opportunity for a bonus, I just assume that they can sense my perfect record from my aura, or they have the ability to interpret my first response gaze.
This is a simple, simple layout of one of the main topics in Romans…the law and faith.
Rules play with your head. They make you feel secure, and the fact that we serve a God who does not operate on a shifting scale, but a just one, offers further security. He tells us the expectations and we have the choice to meet Him there, or not. Justice is elemental to the kingdom. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you (Psalm 89:14, NRSV).
So, what is this entitlement that I feel, as a lover of rules, when I know I will be judged by the same law as everyone else?
This is what rules do: the harder I try to be good, the more of a crazy person I become. The more I hold to my rules, the more I think I deserve to be in an honored place. I deserve to be in the 10 item checkout line for the rest of my life, in my self-righteous moments. These rules can have the opposite affect, also. They can paralyze me and make me feel less than the daughter of the King, because I know that I can’t fulfill them.
But, when Christ looks at my heart, this will be what happens, “…God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith (Romans 3:30, NRSV)”.
I love that justice is an absolute, but I love more that Christ is judging on the ground of faith and not on these rules that I stumble across as I try to reach perfection.
As I read Romans, I see so clearly how the law can cause one to stumble. It gives me a judgmental spirit, toward others and myself. I stand outside of popular culture and feel an entitlement, when I see the shocking things around me. This does not reflect knowledge of biblical justice. Justice is the foundation of His throne, not the foundation of my understanding. Instead of looking at the world with a broken heart, my flesh turns the law into something that esteems me, or deflates me.
That is part of the reason that I added the ‘Verse I Am Praying’, to the sidebar. I look at the world and sometimes it makes me feel like I am something that I am not.
Does anyone else ever struggle in comparing yourself to this world?
Father, thank you for giving us the mirror of your law on our hearts so that we have no other standard in our lives but you. Take today and give us a heart of justice, bound in love. Let us stay away from comparisons.