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Day 17: Location, Location, Location

Yahweh loves the righteous Psalm 146:8

The Righteous – Where will you look for a righteous man? In a place of honor? High above all others so they can look up in wonder?

God tells us exactly where to find this most important role-model. Right between the bowed down (the desperate?) and the strangers (Psalm 146: 8 and 9); right in the midst of the hungry, the prisoners, the blind and the fatherless; right where injustice and discrimination seem to prevail; right where the wicked seem to have their way.

What does this mean? Where is the righteous man found? It’s really pretty obvious. He is found in the company of the sick, the hurt, and the oppressed. The righteous man is just like them.

Let that thought penetrate deeply into your heart. Let the Spirit of God shake that idea that what we need is successful confidence. Let God bring you to your knees in sorrow and sin-sick pride. When did we decide that the righteous were the ones driving a Mercedes, as proof of being blessed? God’s location is certainly not what we expected.

The theological dictionary points out that the inclusion of the tsaddiyqim (righteous) in the midst of the wretched is no accident. The righteous are themselves part of the exploited, the poor, and the suffering. Why? Because God’s grace comes to those who understand their own poverty and need. Why doesn’t God lift them out of the mess? Because grace is a function of dependence. If God’s grace is sufficient, it will not share space with a better investment portfolio. There is no need for more. No wonder Jesus told us it was nearly impossible for the rich to enter heaven. The righteous are at home with the poor.

We must rethink the Bible. We have assumed that it is a book about being a follower who is successful. So we underline the passages about God’s blessings. We have forgotten that the Bible is for the broken. It is not a guide to material success. It is a guide for those who spill their blood because God’s heart of compassion tears them apart to the point of action. It is a story of weeping over the world and becoming determined to change it for the good because of and through God. It is a glimpse of the greatest tragedy and the greatest rescue the world will ever know – at unimaginable cost. It is a love letter for the undeserving.

Can you ask forgiveness for your aggressive exploitation in pursuit of human achievement? Has the Spirit shown you the deepest pride in a heart that really wants recognition? Can you put your arms around a leper in Calcutta and love him?

The desire to be near God as righteous is not an easy place to be. It will cost you your life as you know it. But what good is a deed for property on Park Avenue if God is working in the slums of Mexico City?


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