Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Irony of The Righteous

The strangest thing about life is the way in which goodness gets so cloudy. A person can genuinely try to do the right thing, in spite of themselves, and still end up screwing everything up. You can do the right thing, and then get punished for it. I hate regretting doing the right thing, but if I'm honest I do regret it quite often. Doing the right thing and having nothing but trouble for your efforts, well that just sucks. And it makes doing the right thing very hard.

But you can also think you are doing the right thing, and the whole time do the wrong thing. The bigger problem in life is knowing the right thing and just resisting it. We usually do know what the right thing to do is, and we just don't do it. We often act like we don't know what the right thing to do is, but we really do and we avoid it. But there are times, plenty of times, when you have your heart in the right place, and you really want to do the right thing, but you don't know WHAT to do, and not acting seems clearly wrong. So you know you have to do something, but you don't know what, so you take a chance. Even worse is when you think you know what is right, when you think you have a handle on it, but later you realize you were wrong. It just feels awful.

Of have you ever known a group of people, all of whom loved each other, all who wanted the best for each other, but constantly hurt one another, or were hurt by some fact none of them could do anything about? It is terrible. People can love, and care and try to do right by each other and still hurt one another.

The hardest part of life may be that trying to do what is right, and putting one's all behind that, may not be enough. That goodness, however well perceived most of the time, and however much we all care about it, may be something that ultimately eludes our grasp. There is no place sin does not infect, there is no hope for a fully moral life. In the end righteousness is as much a matter of luck as anything else.

It is for this reason that we need salvation to be inferred upon us. We can never be sure we'll grab a hold of it. We must do our best, and throw ourselves on the mercy of God. We can only leave this life truly clean by avoiding doing anything at all. Such a disentangling is the ultimate evil and must be avoided at all costs. Kierkegaard and Bonhoeffer were right: the opposite of sin is not virtue, but faith.

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