Psalm 15:1 "Lord, who may be a guest in your home? Who may live on your holy hill?"
David struggled with it. I struggle with it. Chances are you probably have struggled with it as well. How do imperfect people (insert carefully selected, facebook worthy photos of you and me here) even begin to approach the Divine? Holding to our Table metaphor (if you haven't noticed, I'm quite fond of it), how do we find a seat at the table with the King? From the Tower of Babel to the hard-backed pews that fill the church down the road, humans have been banging there heads against the wall for millennia trying to reach God. David's answer is as humbling as the question he leads with. Who can approach God? Only the blameless. I find it interesting that David seems to take comfort in this. No cries of unworthiness are written in between the lines. No desperate pleas of forgiveness follow. In fact, is that a bit of confidence I hear in his voice? Where does that come from? I don't believe that a sense of comfort is the natural reaction. When the ancients thought they were confronted by the divine they fell on their face in fear. Our instincts tell us to do the same. Our unworthiness screams within our heads. So we try harder, work more diligently, and earnestly devote ourselves to holiness. All to make ourselves worthy of the one who has called us. We're ambitious, focused, and fired up. With 'Be Holy, for I am Holy!' as our motivational cry, we cheer each other on as we press toward the mark. That is, of course, until we fail. At which point we wipe the mud off our face and pick ourselves up to start the cycle all over again, fighting the urge to give up entirely. Somewhere along the line, frustration replaces hope. Spiritually debilitating frustration. Blameless? Me? David, how can you be so confident?
I wonder if our problem doesn't stem from a skewed view of righteousness defined by our perspective rather than God's. To us, righteousness is behavior based. It's about purity, separation from the world, and the resistance of all those nasty habits we call sin. So when we read Peter's description of Lot as being a righteous man, we're justifiably puzzled. Honestly, how many sermons have you heard on living by the example of Lot? (I'm guessing none) Or behaving like the Corinthian church, which Paul called Holy? Could it be that God's sees righteousness a little differently than us? The righteousness that God looks for comes by faith. When we correct our perspective, we'll realize that holiness is not something that is achieved, but rather something we are invited into. God is up to something and has incomprehensibly chosen to include us in it. Continuing Jesus' illustration of the true vine recorded in John's gospel, Paul argues in Romans that 'if the root is holy, so are the branches.' This holds true not because of the attractiveness of the branch, but rather the strength of the root. The blameless one was blameless for us and the faithful one was faithful for us. This is the hope that we share. Because of Christ, we are more than guests at the table.