And of course, I didn't come up with this idea by myself. It happened right around the time Adam, my pastor, looked up and said "Justification is NOT just a religious issue!" So none of these ideas really go to me :P
In a courtroom, justification is achieved when you are legally declared innocent of the crimes that you're being accused of having committed. But in life? Justification is when you feel you've proven to yourself, and whoever you're in front of, that you're somebody. That you're worth something. That you have value and importance. And so often, these "courtrooms" or situations have nothing to do with religion or church, and EVERYTHING to do with what goes on from Sunday to Sunday.
These are the things we're emotionally invested in. The things we're anxious about. The things that we pour time, money, energy, focus, and effort into. The things we get defensive about. Its the things that when people make a joke or comment about, our first reaction is to stand up and say "How DARE you? I am somebody. I am worth something. And you will NOT treat me this way!"
It's the reason we pick and choose our photos and status so carefully on Facebook...because our deep and secret desire is for people to see them and enviously say, "Now THAT'S a life worth living. Man, she must be something."
Adam used a somewhat silly example this morning, but it shot straight to my heart. My church is located in the center of Columbia, South Carolina...my community eats, sleeps and BREATHES Gamecock culture. Come football season, Clemson fans beware! And that was his point. People stake so much of who they are, their energy, their LIVES, in the outcome of a game that they're not even personally playing. And they demonize Clemson and become so defensive about their Gamecocks, because Clemson embodies everything that attacks what they feels justifies them. College students can spout of players statistics, dates of birth, how long they've played where, and the current collegiate records, but when you begin to ask them about Scripture and the Bible the response becomes "Well, uh...I don't know. I'm not so good at memorizing stuff...it's just so hard for me to learn."
It's not hard for us to learn....we just love to learn about the things that we believe make us who we are. And so often, that's not Jesus. It's football. Or books. Or movies. Or political beliefs. Or election results, or whether we drink Starbucks or hipster coffee, and whether we listened to Mumford & Sons before they were "cool".
Some of these examples were so ridiculous, but they convicted me immediately. Because I have a justification issue too. I have something that I have poured myself into. Something that makes life exciting. Something that I'm scared about, worried about, cry about, rejoice over, and take to the Lord almost every morning. And no...it's not the Gospel.
I fail so often at remembering who I am...and who it is that makes me who I am. But the beauty of the Gospel (and the Gospel's justification) is that God has already declared me innocent and worthy! Not just in His courtroom, which is the ultimate courtroom...but in all these stupid little places I stop to worry about. Like my appearance, and who I'm going to marry, and "maybe if I was just a liiiiittle bit prettier, or loved you a liiiiittle bit better, things would work out differently?"
NO. Because we are united with God in Christ Jesus, we are free to approach Him in our failure. We are covered with the same verdict that God declared of Jesus in Matthew 3:17...