The concept of God’s righteousness scares us because it feels like a standard we’ll be judged by or one that causes us to feel excluded or condemned. But when we come to see that it is a righteousness God gives by faith, everything changes. It’s what theologians call the Great Exchange.
Have you ever seen someone trying to get out of a boat … slowly? They’ve got one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat, and they just don’t want to commit. When you see that person on the dock, all you can think is, “Make a decision. And quick, buddy.” Because as the boat starts to drift away, it’s going to get really uncomfortable really fast. You’re either in or you’re out!
Believe it or not, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the Apostle Paul agree on one thing: Religion can turn you into a really bad person. Religion caters to the worst parts of us—pride, self-centeredness, condescension, self-righteousness, and bigotry—which is why religious people can be (in the words of our generation) the worst.
Christians will typically end their prayers by saying, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Yet most Christians don’t know what they mean when they say it. They think it is just a signal to God that they are about done. But that’s not the point. When you say, “In Jesus’ name,” you are saying, “I am asking for these things according to Jesus’ will, for his glory, and in his power.”
When we live with the wisdom that makes the most of our short time, then we will prioritize and invest in the only two things that last forever: the Word of God and the souls of people. Acting wisely means being aware of the preciousness of time and the brief moment we have to accomplish our role in it.
Jews in Jesus’ day had a hard time understanding how Gentiles could be saved. Gentiles were so bad. They were the historic oppressors. They had perverse sexual practices and no concept of family. They were violent and cruel and godless. This is why it was such a shock to Jews when the Apostle Paul said, “Yup, salvation is theirs, too.”