“I’m right,” said the believer.
“It’s all about being right.
Doing the right things,
Having the right order.”
“If you get something wrong,
then it’s worse than not doing it at all.”
“Now it is evident,” said Paul
“That no one is justified before God
by the law.”
“The righteous,” God said,
“shall live by faith.”
followed immediately by…
“I’m right,” said the preacher.
“I know the right things,
pray the right prayers,
give the right sermons.”
“In my church, people are saved
the right way,
and we worship God right,
the way we’re supposed to.”
“God I thank you that we aren’t
like others, that our Church is right before you.”
But the tax collector stood at a distance.
He would not even look up to heaven.
“God,” he said,
“Have mercy on me,
the God of Righteousness,
“I tell you
that this man,
rather than the other,
went home justified before God.”
This was, I think, one of my first attacks on the idea of doctrinal correctness. Growing up in a restoration movement church, it’s easy to spend so much of our time focused on doctrinal distinctiveness – that which sets us apart from others, and the things that make us “right”. In some way, I suppose this was one of my first forays into a post-modern view of right and wrong.
It just seemed to me that there had to be something bigger than what we term “being right”. In so many ways, we focus on the minutia of what sets us apart rather than what brings us together, and in so many ways what sets us apart isn’t core or central to the message of Christ – though we certainly make it that way.
And somehow in all of that, Christ all too often gets lost in the discussion about the right way to practice Christianity.
At the end of the day, we must realize that we are declared righteous by decree of a loving God as a result of our faith in his promise. If we’re depending on our own righteousness or doctrinal correctness, then we’re in very deep trouble.