Righteousness

—that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
— Philippians 3:8-9

Brother, when thou sittest at home in thy house, which is the temple of the Lord, open all thy windows to breathe the air of his approach; and thy hand be on the latch to open the door at his first knock. Shouldst thou open the door and not see him, do not say he did not knock, but understand that he is there, and wants thee to go out to him. It may be he has something for thee to do for him. Go and do it, and perhaps thou wilt return with a new prayer, to find a new window in thy soul. Never wait for fitter time or place to talk to him. To wait till thou go to church, to thy closet, is to make him wait. He will listen as thou walkest in the lane or the crowded street. Remember, if indeed thou art able to know it, that not in any church is the service done that he requires. He will say to no man, “You never went to church: depart from me; I do not know you;” but, “Inasmuch as you never helped one of my father’s children, you have done nothing for me.” Church or chapel is not the place for divine service; it is a place of prayer, a place of praise, a place to learn of God, as what place is not? It is a place to look in the eyes of your neighbor, and love God along with him. But the world, the place of your living and loving and labor, is the place of divine service. Serve your neighbor, and you serve him. Do not heed much if men mock you and speak lies of you, or in goodwill defend you unworthily. Heed not much if even the righteous turn their backs upon you. Only take heed that you turn not from them. Take courage in the fact that there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

Commentary

At Home with God
by Leah Morency  

                                                                                                                                                            The conclusion, indeed the beginning of Righteousness, is being at home with God.                                                                                                                                                                                 This last excerpt of George MacDonald's beautiful and compelling teaching on Righteousness shoots true and clear to the heart of the glorious dwelling place of the knowledge of Christ; commentary is hardly needed. It is likely my favorite excerpt of this entire sermon.  I have only a few thoughts to add. MacDonald opens with a description of our anticipation of encounter with God, one where we may "open all thy windows to breathe the air of his approach;" and he leads us to this statement, "The world, the place of your living and loving and labor, is the place of divine service."  Endeavoring to seek righteousness in a building, an institution, in a construct outside of the temple of our hearts, is the essence of the impossible works based righteousness warned against here in Philippians. It is the avenue of stumbling and falling and misguided paths we would seek if our goal is the beautiful view of our self glorified in righteous deeds and reputation among men. Seeking righteousness can be no more or less than union with Christ, his will in our hearts leading us into every work of love for others. MacDonald eloquently and gently brings this to light in this final concluding excerpt.      

He gently redirects our minds from where we would naturally go through the guidance of self, when he says "Do not heed much if men mock you and speak lies of you or in goodwill defend you unworthily. Heed not much if even the righteous turn their backs upon you. Only take heed that you turn not from them." This theme of looking only to God the father, seeing his face, loosing ourselves in the person of Christ and finding our true sonship and life in Him is repeated in so many layers of MacDonald's teaching and commendations to the truth of God's pervading love. The safety of union with God hearkens to us through MacDonald's books, poems and spiritual teaching. I have found in my 30 years of religious church experience, that many great evils of men will be done in the church building, and in the name of Christ; many of the most sacrificial acts of love will be displayed in the streets of this world in the name of Christ.  I have since experienced following Christ taking me out into the world in deeper more powerful flows of his current than could ever be contained in a constructed church organization, too often corrupted with politics of rank and power. Inside of my own temple I struggle against the self who seeks against my coming home to God. How much a warning against the earthly homes we create for our comfort here that can counterfit the one and true home.  This is our great comfort, that we are at home breathing in his approach, we are at home in him in our very hearts in the Life of Christ, and in him we have righteousness that is of him.