Righteousness is not necessarily a popular topic. How can I write about it for the entire season of Lent? How can you read about it week after week?
This led me to imagine of a world without righteousness. What would that be like? Although righteousness is a topic that doesn’t necessarily draw us in, what would our world be like if there were absolutely no righteousness in it? The answer is not pretty. In fact, a world without righteousness is hell.
In Psalm 88 the Psalmist ponders such a world:
I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief.
This unique Psalm describes the dark night of our souls. All souls have faced these dark feelings to differing degrees. We have each experienced a taste of a world without righteousness. Thankfully, this world we live in contains the righteousness of a righteous Creator. The reality that helps us keep on breathing, when all seems dark, is the hope of righteousness. You would think we would recognize how vital righteousness is to our lives.
Righteousness is not our idea, but without it we would be abandoned to utter despair. Righteousness is unattainable on our part, yet we would never survive if God didn’t create the world in righteousness. We would turn on each other and the world would self-destruct in total despair. So thank God that He is the God of righteousness and that He created this world on the foundation of His good plan.
Even in a world plagued by unrighteousness, the righteousness of God has not been driven out. It is the bright hope that holds the world together. In between the despair so present in this world, there are sunrises and sunsets that transform a soul. In the midst of the most horrid injustice, flowers bloom and burst forth a sweet fragrance into the atmosphere of doom. After a storm, the goodness in people is brought forth as they lend a hand to a neighbor and share the last bottle of water. We do not inhabit a world devoid of righteousness. Perhaps that is why so many are satisfied to numb their spiritual hunger with the gifts of this world, rather than the gift of the Creator of the world. God the Father sent Jesus to repair the damage that caused unrighteousness into this world. Jesus’ life, crucifixion and resurrection are the threadwork that recreates the potential for righteousness to be restored into this world.