In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 23:6)
There is no one without sin, says Paul, no one who is righteous. And I don’t know of a church where that is more clear than on any given Sunday night here in prison. If there was a gift that comes from prison faith, it is that it is grounded in the sure knowledge of our total unworthiness, and the sure knowledge of God’s loving graciousness.
I received a letter from a friend who lives in Texas yesterday. An ex-con herself, she and her husband work full-time and also minister to over 75 inmates around the country as part of the motorcycle ministry that they ride with. She is a woman devoted to God and ministry, and in her letter she thanked me for being such a blessing to her. Talk like that makes me uncomfortable.
If I were a man who thought myself righteous I could pat myself on the back and say “Of course, after all – don’t you know who I am?!” But the problem is that I do know exactly who I am. I live with me. I know all of my failings, my thoughts, my regrets, my wrongs, my sins. I am very unrighteous. And yet I trust my sister when she is telling me that she has been blessed through our friendship as much as I am.
To that there is only one response. If it isn’t me, and she would deny it is her, then it must be God. My only response can then become: “Of course, after all – don’t you know who God Is?!”
God chooses us, God loves us. God doesn’t just bless us, God uses us to bless others. I am not righteous, but God is. Praise be to God.
Sing, O sing, this blessed morn, unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, God himself comes down from heaven. Sing O sing, this blessed morn, Jesus Christ today is born. (Hymn 88)