Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus by Dr. Fleming Rutledge, an Episcopal priest, offers a thorough and compelling consideration of what took place outside of Jerusalem two millennia ago. Her insights are powerful.
Halfway through the book, the concept of righteousness is discussed. My word-association with the term triggers thoughts such as stern, puritan, legalistic, black-and-white, rigid, moral rectitude, stodgy, unyielding, static. Righteousness is an indisputable attribute of God and is to be a characteristic of his people, but the author flips the coin over and shows another dynamic at play.
“God’s (righteousness) is not an attribute but a power, namely, ‘a power that brings salvation to pass.’ Thus, ‘righteousness’ does not mean moral perfection. It is not a distant, forbidding characteristic of God that humans are supposed to try to emulate or imitate; there is no good news in that. Instead, the righteousness of God is God’s powerful activity of making right what is wrong in the world.” (The emphases are hers).
When the Kansas District of The Wesleyan Church seeks to develop and deploy missional churches, we are collaborating with a fundamental aspect of who God is: to be righteous, i.e. to be supernaturally active, engaged and empowered, and sent out in an effort to make right what is wrong in the world. The influence of a local Wesleyan church in a community or a school district, as it acts to be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus, exerts the righteousness of God to right the wrongs such as domestic violence, hungry children on weekends, illiteracy, sexual exploitation, bullying, and a nearly inexhaustible list of other wrongs.
Jesus’ mandate is to make disciples. Men and women who become followers of Jesus are not only #madenew, but they radiate his righteousness in their household, marketplace, school board, construction site, sale barn, and cubicle. The difference disciples make is due, not just through the righteousness of their character, but through the powerful activity of their lives, their involvement, their presence, their advocacy in making right what is wrong in the world.