5th August 2012
“But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
Romans 3:21-22 (NIV UK)
Summer is nearly over now, and many are waiting anxiously for the exam results to come out. A few have already returned to the world of classes, teachers, books, assignments, and, of course, grades. Some of us, on the other hand, have passed those years of formal education, but many older people choose to go back to school and take college courses in areas of personal interest or job enhancement. Whether still in school or out of it, we’re all well acquainted with the pressure, anxiety and fear that formal education can generate in us as we strive to measure up and make the grades we need.
Life itself can take on that same sense of anxiety and worry if we measure our personal worth in terms of achieving a ‘grade’. Christian writer Henri Nouwen put it this way: “The world says: ‘Yes, I love you if you are good looking, intelligent and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job and connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much and buy much.’ There are endless ifs hidden in the world’s love…. The world’s love is and always will be conditional” (The Return of the Prodigal Son, p. 42).
In the world, and often even in our homes, love is based on our behaviour. Life has a way of teaching us from an early age that when we are good, our parents, teachers, bosses, spouses and even many of our friends love us, but when we aren’t so good, they don’t.
But it’s not the same with God. God does not withhold his love until we measure up. He loves us all the time – before our sins, during our sins and after our sins. “While we were still sinners Christ died for us,” Paul writes in Romans 5:8 and 10. But God does not leave us in our sins. Jesus came not only to be the atonement for our sins, but also to be our righteousness.
God not only forgives our sins, he also provides the righteousness we need—the righteousness of Jesus. In short, we are saved because God is righteous, not because we are righteous. God’s righteousness, Paul says, is displayed in his act of transforming us sinners into his own forgiven and redeemed children in Jesus Christ—something we experience only through faith. Jesus already made the grade for us; our job is to turn to him and follow him.
“Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes,” Paul writes in Romans 10:4. Jesus does it all, start to finish. He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Holy Father, we are grateful that you grade by ‘The Cross’ of Christ and not on the curve of exam results. Help us to put our faith and trust in you as Christ lives in us and is our righteousness. Bless us, heavenly Father, because it is so hard to let go and put our faith wholly in you. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach