Friday, July 19, 2013

Right and Good

Some days, this world just gets to me.  You ever have those days?

I grew up in an era of manners and hard work, and it wasn't as long ago as some of you might think.  I'm only 28.  And I was always told that if you work hard, serve well, keep your head up, and stick to your guns, you're going places.  You can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be, and if you do it well and honestly and with integrity, this world is going to smile on you.

And I think that at one time in this place, that was probably true.  But that time is not this time.  In this world we live in, it's not enough to be right.  It's not enough to be good.  It's not enough to work hard, serve well, keep your head up, and stick to your guns.  There's no room for that kind of thing.

A few cases in point:

It wasn't that long ago that I mentioned some disappointing news I received in which the world has adjudicated its case against me and found me in default.  That's part of the story.  The other part of the story is that...I'm right.  By every definition of the word, I am on the side of right.  But unless I want to play dirty, I haven't got a case.  Unless I want to change everything about who I am and the way I live in this world, I am going to lose.  I'm not happy about it.  It aches in my heart.  I burn with the longing for the time when right was right and right won.  But this time is not that time.

I look at the unemployed, the chronically unemployed who have so much to offer any potential employer.  I hear the stories of my friends, who are good people.  They've worked hard.  They've been diligent.  They've done everything right, and they can't get a foot in the door.  Then last week on the news, I hear the story of a convicted murderer who escaped from prison and was on the lam for 4 months...during which time, she held a job!  This woman's on the run with no way to even identify herself, and she waltzes into a job at a time when so many good, hard-working, honest people can't even get an interview at the Wal-Mart.  Then I think about all the programs designed to help other troubled souls find work.  If you are handicapped, or a recovering addict, or a former inmate, there are places and people who will connect you with work when you want it.  People with clean lives can't access these programs.  They're being shoved out of jobs so those who blew it can have another chance.

I'm not saying I'm against redemption; I myself have been redeemed.  But what happened to open doors for good people?

This time is not that time.

(Truth: Some days, this is me in my chronic unemployment.  Most days, as time goes by, I am encouraged by knowing that I am right where God would have me.  Although the starving artist period has its moments...)

So what's a man to do in this time when it's not enough to be right or good?  When it's maybe not anything to be right or good?  Do you give up good?  Do you give up right?

You can't.  At least, I can't.  I refuse to make myself wrong to be viewed right.  I refuse to corrupt my character to get a chance.  Not because I was raised this way (but I was).  Not because I am disciplined this way (but I am).  Not because this is my habit, the very foundation on which I have built my life (but it is).  But because this is how I was created.  To be right and good.

That is how God created us.  To be right, knowing truth, and to be good, living truth.  It's frustrating in a place that doesn't reward that or even recognize it, but it doesn't change the intent of God's creation.  We are to be right and good.

And when, God tells us, our right is wrong.  Then we are to be wrong...and righteous.  Not self-righteous, but holy.  Be holy about being wrong, even when you're right. And when, He says, your good is bad, when it doesn't get you ahead, when it doesn't give you the opportunities you're looking for, let it be bad...and be gracious.  You, too, have been redeemed.

On the days when it's hard to live in these times, when I long for the days where right and good were enough, when I realize that those days are not these days...I can't help but still be right and good.  I do my best to be righteous and gracious.  Because I'm not accountable to this world, as much as it wants to tell me I am.  I am accountable to God.

And He created me this way.

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