If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practises righteousness is born of Him. — 1 John 2: 29
The rebirth obligates us to conduct our lives in accordance with the example of Jesus Christ.
From its start to its very last book, Scripture attests that the eternal God is a righteous God. In the oldest writings we read: “His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice” (Deuteronomy 32: 4). And in the very last book of the Bible it says: “Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgements” (Revelation 16: 7).
Jesus Christ is God, the Son, who became human and walked this earth as the Righteous One. He was the only human being to lead a life without transgressing any of the commandments—indeed, He lived a life without any sin, and was thus able to say of Himself that He had come to fulfil the law (Matthew 5: 17). In the rebirth out of water and the Spirit, we have received the nature of God—and thereby the commission to profess Jesus, the Righteous One, in word and deed.
To be born of Jesus Christ is therefore not only a sacramental act, but rather also has very specific implications for the way we lead our lives. Receiving the sacraments and living in accordance with the gospel belong together.
Our endeavour to fulfil the standards set by the gospel is therefore also always a testimony that we have been born of Him.
A life in line with the example of the Righteous One
Now what does a life that focuses on the Righteous One actually look like? It is demonstrated, for example, in
- Our love for God, our love for our neighbour, and our love for one another. This love has been poured out in our hearts (Romans 5: 5) and is to become active.
- Unbiased care and willingness to help—even when it comes to the sinner or the guilty party.
- Unreserved trust in God’s omnipotence and omniscience, especially in situations that seem hopeless.
- Willingness to sacrifice, which at times quite consciously chooses to take the less comfortable route.
- The striving to engage one’s gifts and strengths to help others, and not to hurt others.
- A clear view of the divine will, which enables us to make decisions as desired by God even in times of trial.
- The overarching life goal of entering into eternal fellowship with God—in line with the counsel of Jesus: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6: 33).
Many of these things we will not manage to achieve one hundred per cent or in their full scope until the day of Christ’s return—but ultimately our endeavours will be blessed by the Lord.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday 10 January 2016 at Midrand Congregation.