Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live” (Romans 1:17). More on Faith in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.

Righteousness -‘dikaiosune’, qualified: ‘of God’. At the root is ‘dike’- ‘divine law’; ‘right-law’; posited by God’ and ‘bound by divine justice’. ‘Dikaios’ -one who observes divine law’. Both the ‘fear of God and good will to (hu)man’. A leading concept of Ethics philosophy; held as one of four ‘Cardinal Virtues’ of The Church. Justice=righteousness with divine law at it’s root.

In searching out the depth of ‘dikaiosune/Righteousness’, which is revealed, the ‘it’, this ‘Gospel’ must first be looked into. Jesus’ primary concern for ‘dikaiosune/righteousness’, can be seen in his most fundamental teaching— “But SEEK FIRST the Kingdom of God and His ‘dikaiosune’…”. One of my most important sermons I simply entitled ‘The Righteousness of The Scribe’ to draw attention to the fact of the commitment that this occupation had for the transmission of the law and word of God. Know and never underestimate this teaching of Jesus— “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” Where does this leave the modern, casual Bible toting, the careless Bible study Christian? I used to hear my grandmother say that the road to hell is paved with good intention. “Blessed are you who HUNGER AND THIRST for ‘dikaiosune’, for you shall be filled.”

Again, it is revealing to run the numbers on ‘dikaiosune’. Of the 3 forms viewed in this word group, ‘dikaiosune’ is used most by New Testament writers. Most specifically by Paul in his Letter to The Romans where ‘dikaiosune’ is used no less than 35 times just in this letter alone. I did say, let me say again— Paul’s teaching on ‘righteousness’ is so oppressed by the historical Church that a revival of the study of this would drastically change this Christian Nation’s presence in the world. We do unto others what we would never, ever even think of letting them do unto us.

What I am saying more than anything else in this is that as modern Christians, we have become so dependent upon the preached word for our understanding of faith. I believe that it is the ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness’ that inspires us as individuals to want to ‘be free indeed’ in searching out the depth of the buried treasures of scripture and it’s meaning for life beyond institutions and systems. It is not the ‘institutionalized teachings of Paul’ that inspire ‘new life’, but, here— here lies new life in Paul. If it were easy to get, it would not have been ‘oppressed’ and ‘hidden’ from you all these thousands of years. Albert Schweitzer is dead on it with just his title— ‘The Mysticism of Paul The Apostle’. “…IT IS the POWER of God for SALVATION!!”

Look first at this major fact of Paul’s Life. He has identified himself as a Pharisaic Jew, born and trained in the rigorously legalistic faith of the Old Testament. In his ‘new life’ in Christ, his mission places him in the kind of conflict with his ‘birthright’ that he has to define, and indeed give ‘new meaning’ to ‘Law’ IN CHRIST. While the external pressures of The Jerusalem Church’s demands on the ‘law of circumcision’ presses (inclusive of the Jewish instigated ‘lock-downs’); Paul is working ‘internally’ on this personal dichotomy— righteousness is no longer in ‘observance of law’; now, it is IN GOD (Christ).

I wish I could end on this note, it is what the Christian Church has done— thrown out the ‘observance of law’ (‘the baby with the bath)! And the prisons are full of Christians. Needless to say, the ‘lock-downs’ are NOT ABOUT FAITH!

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