How righteous are you?

Righteous: Reverend Rob Tanner has been contemplating powerful words. Photo by Megan Fisher

In Sydney in 1994 I was ordained by the Baptist Union of NSW. That meant I had completed my studies and training to become a Baptist Pastor.

It also meant I had a new title before my name. I could be called the Reverend Rob Tanner.

Now I’m not one to go in for formal titles and what not. I very rarely use the reverend title in introducing myself.

But I decided I’d have a bit of fun with it. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Reverend James Brown or the Reverend Richard Penniman otherwise known as Little Richard? One was the Godfather of Soul and the other was one of the founding fathers of rock and roll.

So as a bit of a joke I would occasionally introduce myself as the Righteous Reverend Rob. I wasn’t trying to be sacrilegious I was just having a bit of fun.

But it did get me thinking about the words righteous and righteousness. What do they mean today?

Recently at New Life Baptist we have been looking at some powerful words and what they mean. The topics can be kind of heavy.

For instance, our first word was sin followed by the word repentance. The other week we looked at forgiveness which led us to righteous and righteousness.

The Bible teaches us that to relate to God we have to be without sin. Basically, that means there can be no wrong or fault in us. We have to be righteous in word and deed.

I think most of us would agree that it is impossible to be perfect in our own strength.

The Bible teaches us that God wants to be in a relationship with us. He really does love us but our imperfections keep us separated from Him.

The way God initially dealt with this was by giving what is called The Law. This is the first five books in the Old Testament. The Law set out standards and rules to live by. If we kept The Law in all aspects we would be in a right relationship with God.

Again, the problem was we are not perfect and therefore not right with God. None of us in our own strength could keep the full Law. So, what were we to do? The New Testament tells us we need to trust Jesus.

At Easter we remember what Jesus died on the cross. He was both God and man and perfect as both God and man. Christians believe that He died on the cross not because of his sins which He didn’t have, but because of our sins. His death, burial and resurrection fulfilled the requirements of the Law. It was His sacrifice of love for us.

When we accept Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, God does not see our failings but Jesus love and sacrifice. God literally says we are righteous and right in our relationship because Jesus was perfect as God and man. You can be right with God if you accept Jesus into your heart and life.

Rob Tanner, New Life Baptist Church