You & I live our life in the “you must DO this and DO that” world in order to “be X, Y or Z.”  I get tired of ‘DO’ing, don’t you?  Whether it is at work or church or in relationships, it’s all exhausting and unceasing.

Christianity is different.  Christianity is the only religion that proclaims DONE, not DO!  What other religion has its God seek out his creation?  What other God died for his people?

Consider Romans 14:17, one of my new favorite verses:  For the Kingdom of God is not (religious rules governing) eating and drinking, but RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE and JOY in (by means of) the Holy Spirit.

This verse explains the essence of Christianity.  Living as a son or daughter in the Kingdom of God is not about following rules.  Instead it’s about treasuring what accrues to us as children of God.  By grace, (read: ‘a gift’) we are given:

  • Righteousness.  This is the Greek word ‘dika-ios-oo-nay’ (phonetic – # G1343).  It means that since we have been justified by God, we have right standing with our judge, God the Father.  When we become a Christian, we are made a new creation; we are united with Christ. The most eternally significant benefit is that our sins have been transferred over to Christ and paid for, so justice is done.  And we also have had transmitted to us Christ’s perfect life, as a credit.

Righteousness that belongs to someone else (but given to us) is not just a New Testament concept.  Consider Jeremiah 23:6. God is called Jehovah Tsedeq – the Lord our Righteousness.  We are not told to seek our own righteousness; we already have his if we belong to Him.

What follows from being ‘right’ with God?  Peace!  Remember Paul’s opening in Romans 5?  “Since we have been justified….let us grasp the fact that we have PEACE with God..”

  • Peace.  This is the Greek word, ‘ei-re-ne’ (#G1515).  Irene is the lovely name derived from this concept.  Here’s how the Blue Letter Bible website describes this peace, “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”  If we have peace with God, we can reason from the greater to the lesser.  That is, if God has taken care of our biggest and eternal problem, we can rest assured that He will work temporary peace in our earthly relations to the extent that we trust Him and yield to His will.

Finally, the 2nd benefit of being made ‘right’ with God through what Jesus has done for us, is JOY by means of the Holy Spirit.

  • Joy.  ‘Chara’ is the Greek word (# G5479) The world attempts to sell us temporary happiness based on obtaining  ‘stuff’, ‘achievements’ or ‘experiences’.  But happiness is fleeting.  What we are starved for is permanent Joy.  We are wired for Joy; that is why happiness seems so desirable.  But happiness is the cheap version of joy.  Think about what a great God we have.  He desires our joy.  He could have said, “the Kingdom of God is about RULES or PLEASING ME or BEING BEST in the Kingdom or SACRIFICE or any other depressing version of DO THIS IN ORDER TO”.  But God wants our true joy.  When our answers to prayer result in NO and our happiness seems threatened, let us remember that our Heavenly Father desires something far better than what we can ask or imagine.

The last few words of our verse, “…in the Holy Spirit”, are important.  We need to remember that we cannot go after righteousness, peace & joy in our own strength.  But the good news assures us that if we are born-again believers, we have had our nature changed.  Our essence is different, we are united to Christ.  This change is passive in the sense that we do NOT do anything actively to bring it about.  We receive NEWS of what God himself has done.  If we respond to this news by executing an about-face and trust (‘receive’) what He says, then this new nature is ours. What follows is the family right to have fullness of peace and joy.

A caveat as I end: the joy and peace that are available to us, given both our right standing with God and our new nature IN Christ, won’t come to our awareness automatically.  We have to RE-CALL them frequently. We have to remind ourselves of our RIGHTS, our current inheritance.  But what a small effort for such a marvelous gift!  Each time we succumb to anxiety or internal churn, we can repent (think of the military command to make an About Face) and return our thoughts to the truth of who we are, whose we are and what belongs to us as beloved children of God.