When I was in college I visited a Hindu temple with some friends. While there, I noticed a man in the corner sitting with his legs crossed and his right arm stretched upward. He was frail and had a long grey beard. I stopped paying attention to the nice lady giving a tour and kept watching the man. He sat there motionless, almost in a trance like state. It was fascinating. He seemed so spiritual. Separated. Enlightened. The tour lady couldn’t help but notice me distracted and graciously answered the puzzled look on my face, “Oh, that’s one of our righteous men. He has had his hand up for several days now.”
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.(1)
One of the most revolutionary concepts Jesus taught was his idea of righteousness. He described a righteousness that draws us into relationship and community rather than removed from it. Our righteousness is determined by our capacity to love rather than our separation from culture. Jesus’ posture looked to proclaim the truth instead of protect it.(2)
I wonder how different I am from my bearded friend. I wonder if most of the people Jesus talked to would have made me feel uncomfortable. He’d probably annoy me and I’d wonder why he didn’t spend more time at church. I wonder if I’d start making excuses to not hang out with him anymore and listen to a sermon on my iPod instead. I wonder if I’d even gossip about him at my three small groups and two worship services I attended that week and complain how worldly Christians are now a days.
Is my idea of righteousness nothing more than Christian comfort? Have I become so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good? If Jesus leads people into the world and I don’t go, can I even say I’m following him? Do I check off the christian boxes of belief but am functionally Hindu?
Dear Jesus, may we pursue a real righteousness today.
1. John 17:15,16
2. Dear well meaning Christian, please stop fighting people that think differently than you… Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” – John 18:36