We continue to discuss what values are important in our Christian Learning communities, and how they arise from our understanding of virtues. We are also thinking about why specific values are important, and how we should approach them.

A reminder of our attempt to understand virtues:

 “Virtues find their origin in God the Father, their expression in the person of Christ and their enabling by the Spirit.”

This week we want to consider how the virtue of righteousness informs some important values, and how the practice of those values will reinforce our understanding of righteousness.

RIGHTEOUSNESS“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made
known. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22

Righteousness arises from the absolute holiness and “rightness” of God’s truth-filled view of all things.

Here we see again in Paul’s letter to the Romans (and in many other places) righteousness has its origin in God the Father, coming though faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (by the revelation of the Spirit).

This righteousness leads to understanding that shalom should be at the centre of Christian community. Shalom means being at peace with God, fellow humans and the world around us. It means living in harmony. 

However, we live in a sin-tainted world and sometimes shalom escapes us. Our correct response is to rejoice when shalom is present, and mourn when shalom is absent.

God’s righteousness means that He is the only One who knows what is just; He is the only one who is committed to justice. He is the only One who can judge correctly. He is the only One who can deal rightly with injustice.

Justice should be a mark of our community life. Firstly, justice is positive; it means doing what is right. Tim Keller suggests that justice means positive action:

Actively caring for the vulnerable; reflecting the character of God; engaging in right relationships and Living generously [1]

Injustice must be dealt with; it always has consequences. So, justice becomes a value in our Christian Learning communities. We must encourage just living and deal with injustices.

Mercy and grace are not the overlooking of the consequences of injustice. 

Mercy is God withholding from us what we deserve; but the penalty being paid by Christ.

Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve by imputing to us the righteousness of Christ.

So, when we exercise mercy, we recognise that there will be a cost to us.

When we exercise grace, there is a cost to us, but a desire and support to change future thinking and behaviour. 

God’s RighteousnessShalom, Justice, Mercy, Grace

Once more we see the “two-way flow” of understanding. As we practice the values of Shalom, Justice, Mercy and Grace, we will keep pointing back to the Righteousness of God. 

As we understand the Righteousness of God, we will better understand how to live the values that reflect righteousness in our communities and the world.

Blessings Brian

[1] ‘Generous Justice’ Tim Keller