Advent TJ.jpg

I remember the fall and winter months growing up in Seattle. It’s cold and wet outside so you get a lot of time inside. I only have one sibling so for me that meant a lot of time playing games, arguing, and wrestling with my brother. There is one distinct memory that I will bet most of us with brothers share. It is that hilarious yet terrible split second when playful; energy releasing wrestling turns into pure, uncontrolled anger. That switch from playful to angry is not a slow one! I vividly remember the circus like facial contortion act that happens in this instant. And his strength that somehow, miraculously multiplied by at least 3, maximum of 6ish (depending on the level of anger). But the most important part that I remember is pushing the wrestling a little further and further to see where that break is.

Being the older brother (and a selfish human sinner), I pushed and pushed the boundaries every chance I could get. Completely unaware of how my actions could effect what is happening around me. From degrading my brother down to a stricken angered state to somehow eating an entire Costco pizza and everything in between.

We can all agree that as we get older we build awareness to the specifics of situations and gradually build a stronger understanding of what is really happening around us. And now, finally, after 26 years on this earth, I feel like I have finally had a small growth spurt in relation to this. I have caught myself looking back at situations with friends and family or even strangers and thinking to myself “wow I was awful there” or “I’m pretty sure they felt unloved and uncared for by me” etc. It is empowering to look at these times, journal a bit, and unpack them to learn more about myself and find out what it is God wants me to take from that memory. Naturally, looking back I feel like it’s too late to learn from my mistakes so I cringe a bit, and move along as fast as I can. So rather than just moving on I want to see how God can use these things to strengthen myself and my awareness.

Romans 1:16-18

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

As a Christian, every year I think the same things during Christmas. Fairly simple thoughts like “I need to focus on how grateful I am that Jesus died for me” and “I really need to constantly be thinking of ways I can show more love to my friends and family”. But as cliché as it sounds, the significance of His coming is so much more than words can describe. Throughout Romans Paul explains the significance of Jesus coming to the earth and how Jesus set an example of righteousness for us through His ministry. That ministry would later be fulfilled through His death, so that we can have a fulfilled life. 

The concept of righteousness took me a bit to understand. The definition of the root of righteousness is “in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God”. It is us in our purest form, free of sin and all inequities. It is being people of integrity.

During the Christmas season we spend so much time trying to figure out the easiest and fastest path to becoming a righteous person. We do this by buying each other nice things, by praying more, by being more generous. We have created a Christmas culture that expects us to be these things. These are all good things, but we miss the point. The secret to living a righteous life is not to be all these things once a year, but like Jesus, to love people constantly. It is His life and His life only that is the perfect image of righteousness because He is the perfect image of love.

I’m 26 and just now finally starting to understand what it means to truly love. I can look back now and learn from my mistakes in relationships. Rather than seeking the code to righteousness, living a life that draws from Jesus’ love to build a genuine love.