Scripture Reading: Romans 5:12-19
Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. –Romans 5:18-19
What does it mean to be made righteous? Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word translated as righteous in our scripture above as just in the eyes of God—describes what is in conformity to God’s own being*. A word we use to foster comfort in personal salvation, grace, seems to be tied to our relationships with others. Can justice exist outside of community?
Laws exist to standardize structures and processes related to human interaction. The rightness or justness of laws is based on the impartial facts of a given situation which demonstrates whether the issue is fair; whether it possesses the qualities of equity—a free and reasonable conformity to accepted standards of natural right, law, and justice without prejudice, favoritism, or fraud and without rigor entailing undue hardship: justice according to natural law or right**. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) When we practice his way of being based on loving God and loving others the law is fulfilled because the very nature of love results in justice.
The law became brittle in various times in the history of God including in first century Galilee and Judea. Hardened and no longer malleable to the world’s growth and progress, the law became a path to self-righteousness for some and a stumbling block for others in search of God. Jesus reset the paradigm placing rules in their proper order joined with the imperative of always living one’s love.
Fear is often the cause of the breakdown in the connection between rules and love. Fear of change is often the culprit. To be honest, it is probably easier to follow a whole book full of rules than engage with other humans toward living together in harmony. This is particularly true when we or our group believe we have the only correct interpretation of the rules. 1 John 4:18 assures us, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
Prayer: God of Justice who is Love, calm our fears, embolden our love so that your justice may rule our lives. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.