Closely related to freedom is the value of righteousness. The Reformation rediscovered and brought back to the attention that God has put us in the right position with Him by graciously delivering us from the burden of guilt. He set us free and made us righteous. This notion implies that righteousness is not a natural given and also that the evil of unrighteousness is part of this reality.

This world is the arena where the struggle between God and the devil takes place, where truth battles falsehood, where love fights hate, where sharing counteracts greed, where life defeats death. And the daily news today still proves that this insight was a clear one. But, that evil can also be found in ourselves. And we know it. The conclusion is that we are also guilty of the wrongs and miseries in this world. Our problem is that we are, as Luther says – curved in on ourselves instead of on God and others. Being freed from this guilt and being bent towards God and our neighbors, we are called to strive for righteousness in this world starting in our own little circle. God’s righteousness implies social righteousness and a just society.

Huldrych Zwingli stood up against the unrighteousness of the mercenary system, from which women and children suffered so much. John Calvin organized a policy of righteousness in which public reconciliation was a major element. And it is this view of righteousness that connects the sixteenth century reformers with people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr., individuals who saw that righteousness is a verb, not a noun.

Righteousness simply starts with you and me.

The Coram Deo Program does not suggest that people should imitate the heroes of virtue, for that would cost too much energy and would end with frustrating failure, although heroes like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and mother Teresa are clear sources of inspiration. Not becoming someone else, but discovering who you are yourself and what you are called to do to effect change is the secret. And when it comes to righteousness, a lot needs to be changed. The global problem of an unjust division of resources, a growing gap between rich and poor, is reflected in situations at your front door, so to speak. Sharing and re-using goods, investing time and friendliness, creating possibilities for work and recreation do not ask for government programs but can be accomplished by everyone. Reconciliation is not just a topic for North and South Korea and for the Middle-East but for everyone being part of a family, living in a neighborhood, going to work or school, being involved in sports, church and society. In short, righteousness in this world does not start with the United Nations.

It simply starts with you and me.


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