Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can You See Your Bottom?

"One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor..." - Proverbs 12:26

I have a very narrow view of life. If you've spent any time reading my blog, I'm sure you've seen it. There's a self-obsession that I wrestle with every day.

I'm reminded of the time my son David, who's 2, wanted to see something on his bottom. He twisted his head this way and that and found that with a two year old body it's impossible to view one's hind-quarters. It kept his parents entertained(still does in fact as I picture it in my mind).

But at any given moment on any day, it's a pretty safe bet that I'm trying to figure out something about me. I like thinking about me. Little do I acknowledge that life isn't about me, it's about God.

Sounds discouraging doesn't it? We want life to be about us (and seeing our ever-out-of-view bottoms). We grow discouraged, bitter, resentful and ugly when people don't pay enough attention to us and our plans, our desires and wishes. But life isn't about us.

Which brings me around to the quote above. I rarely think that living righteously is a gift I have to bring to others. A guide to others. A way in which I can get outside of myself and truly love my neighbor and glorify God. But it is the way.

I just got off a phone call, in which a close friend of mine is seeking to be a faithful wheel-chair salesman. I'd have a lot more funny stuff to write about if he was evil and crooked, a villainous wheel-chair salesman. I can see the reams of great stuff that I'd be able to ramble on about.

But he's not (boring!), and he's attempting to be faithful to the task God's given him of going places, making contacts, pitching his product and making sales. And over all of this he's got the perspective that this is ministry - selling wheelchairs with integrity and looking for opportunities to share Christ in both word and deed. He's got it and he's a guide to me.

My friend probably doesn't know it but he's benefiting me, his neighbor. The exercise of his righteousness, or right-standing before God in Christ, shines a bright light on my life.

Why are we called to right living and good works? According to Proverbs, it is so that our neighbors will be benefited with guidance. And when it comes to being a light in dark and dying world, including that darkness that still lurks in our hearts, Christ works his righteousness to work wonders.

One of the dangers of righteous living is all the human definitions of righteousness. They tend to fall more in line with human-constructed restrictions, prudishness, legalism and elitism. This isn't at all righteousness according to God. Biblical righteousness is proactive, not reactive and restrictive. True righteousness is God's work of making all things right. And it involves us as we take tiny steps of obedience.

So with all these ramblings, I'm trying to just get my mind around the reason I want to walk close to Christ and live righteously. I guess most of the time I do it so that I will be blessed - me again. But the reality is that if I really do walk close to Christ, my neighbors will be guided by Christ in me.

According to Jesus, loving neighbors and loving God is where it's at. So all this righteous-living stuff is a good thing, and it's gotten a bad rap by people like me trying to do it on our own. People that are so self-obsessed that they think they can please God without blessing their neighbors.

It's just not right is it?

1 comment:

Taylor said...

Excellent thoughts, Philip. That distinction between righteousness as self focused / vs. others focused is really insightful and cuts to the heart! Not my heart, though, because I'm not either kind of righteous.