Yes, Easter is also a season. Today we continue the first week of Easter and the celebration of the risen Christ together. Don’t forget our daily reflection for this week.
You’ve been there before – a heated discussion or argument. Your pulse races and your voice grows louder. The debate rages. And after a while, it’s not even about your side or position.
I love being right. And you do, too, don’t you? It’s something that’s ingrained in our human experience. Being right can feel like a drug. And there’s reason for that. For example, take this from Judith E. Glaser:
“When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right.”
Christians are greatly concerned with righteousness, and justly so. God is righteous and holy, so we should also be concerned with these things. Yet there is a subtle but huge difference between right-ness and righteousness. And I think that in our red state/blue state culture, the line between the two has been blurred.
Do we as Christians believe that we are defined by our right-ness? What else would lead us to fight so relentlessly among ourselves? Our desire to be right causes us to create tribes, draw lines and attack each other over the finer points of our theology. We continue to feed on the flesh of our brothers and sisters.
Even worse, we actually believe that our job as the Church is to legislate righteousness to everyone around us. As if by simply pointing out what is right or wrong has the ability to change someone’s heart. We try to make sure that everyone – everyone – sees the truth and follows it.
Even if the way we say it causes others pain.
Even if it causes more division instead of unity.
Even if we end up alienating others instead of drawing them.
We desire righteousness, but settle for right-ness, and in the process turn others away from the truth.
Doesn’t righteousness extend past simply believing the right things? Are people won over to our side simply because we make the right arguments?
Paul had a better vision for our purpose in 2 Corinthians 5:
“And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’”
Not ministers of right-ness, but ministers of reconciliation. Or maybe more accurately, ministers of resurrection. I don’t know about you, but the holiness of others does not necessarily inspire me to holiness. In fact, by comparing myself to others, I often feel excluded in light of my own shortcomings.
But when others first extend love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness or gentleness my way, something altogether different occurs. I experience life in the dead places of my life. Resurrection is made real in me.
Maybe that’s why right-ness isn’t listed as a fruit of the Spirit. Because righteousness has a lot more to do with the way we treat our neighbor and the attitudes we exhibit in the world rather than our beliefs.
And maybe righteousness looks more like inviting others to a celebration rather than winning a debate.
So may we all live today as ministers of resurrection in the world. May our love and joy be evident to everyone around us. May our attitudes and actions invite others to the Easter celebration.
And may our righteousness abound even when our right-ness falls short.