by Brad Duncan
Again, I would like to bring up the flaws with righteousness as a higher priority than love.
It's kind of obvious though. Right actions and right belief, without right love, are empty and without purpose. "Righteousness" that is defined as right love is the greater righteousness that Jesus taught. It doesn't make you right with God. It makes you the kind of person that God intended when you were created. It makes the world function. Families, friendships, communities, and governments can prosper under the concept of love.
When Jesus said "Give us this day our daily bread" in the Lord's prayer, he probably wasn't suggesting that God send manna from heaven. He wasn't asking God to favor the elite or those with proper faith by providentially filling their cupboards. He was asking God to enable society and people to function to share bread and goodness with one another in a way that functions to bring sustenance to all. God can bring the rain (if we want to view meteorology as God's work) and the crops, but we must harvest it, make the bread, distribute it, sell it, give it, share it, and keep the world from starving. Jesus was indicating that sustenance is our God-given job.
Loving actions and words are also sustenance, without which all of us will die. Jesus taught this concept until he was blue in the face. "Love God, Love Others" he said, and then explained what he meant using the parable of the good Samaritan. In that parable, those pursuing righteousness (instead of love) refused to help the injured victim on the road, but the Samaritan who was not of the religious elite made serious sacrifices to help the injured man and make sure he was okay. Righteousness was demonstrated by the Samaritan who didn't care about righteousness, rather than the religious elite who were actually obsessed with righteousness.
Now about the church the implication is this: if we build something that is an organized group of Christians, call it a body, a community, an institution, whatever, and we define the mission of that group to promote right actions and right beliefs in people, then it will naturally overstep love to do so. It can lead to violence. (see the recent post http://leftcheek.blogspot.com/2012/10/and-violent-bear-it-away.html by a friend of mine). Trying to make people better usually harms them. And we know it, and we are okay with it, because we follow the motto "no pain no gain!". I don't think that's right.
So, again I challenge the church. Don't make it about the righteousness, claiming that by pursuing God's favor through right actions and right beliefs, that we will achieve a higher purpose of loving people through the help of the Holy Spirit. No, seek a greater righteousness, that does not seek God's favor, that does not concern itself with acceptability. Seek a sacrificial righteousness that embraces humanity and tries to participate in it. Helps the neighbor and the enemy. Emulate the good Samaritan. Seek to be like Christ and his teachings, not to curry his favor by saying and doing the right things. Build your house upon the rock, and it will stand.
Join the revolution that Jesus started! He called it the kingdom of God.