When jazz musicians use the term, righteous, they are describing music that is harmonious, in a groove, following the established principles or rules of music but using those rules to launch a new, delightful and creative line of music that is a real treat to the ear and soul of the listener. Sadly, when the terms, righteous or righteousness, are applied to a Christian context, too often the associations made are more about the uptight “Church Lady” from Saturday Night Live.
There is nothing righteous about being a prude. Religious, frowny-faced, so-called righteousness stems from the impossible attempt to be good enough for God. As we have discussed in the previous posts it is impossible for us humans to act in harmonious, righteous ways with God when we are disconnected from His Spirit. You cannot harmonize with music you can’t hear.
But when God “lives with” a person (Isaiah 57:15), He establishes the connection with His Spirit. He does so to “revive” him, to bring him to life in a new way, thus enabling him to live with the best and most beautiful kind of righteousness. Righteousness does not come from human effort; it is a gift from God. Here is how Paul explained it:
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:21-22a
Paraphrased, this says that the ability and tendency to live in tune with God’s beautiful music comes from Him, the Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets) explained had to happen. This harmonious and beautiful capacity, righteousness, comes as a gift to those who put their faith in Jesus. Paul describes it later as “walking in the newness of life.”(Romans 6:5)
See dat? This is the exact opposite of the commonly held notion of what happens to a person who trusts Jesus. You don’t become an uptight, holier-than-thou, pinched-face church lady. That’s not real righteousness. Instead, you discover a new life from God that emerges from inside, with increasing righteousness – in the jazz sense of the word!
(To read these posts in a logical order, click on the “New Here?” page above, or on THIS LINK)