2021 Advent Devotional: In the Midst of Changing Ways – Many Gifts, One Spirit
Week 2: The Gift of Faith
Scripture: Philippians 3:9 – “Not having a righteousness of my own that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based in faith.”
Reflector: Neomi De Anda
Navigational Faith Tools
In researching the etymology of the word “righteousness”, I found that the term comes from an Old English word that was closer to “rightwise,” which has to do with being morally in accordance with the will of God. Many biblical scholars agree that this term connects to justice. My own definition of justice is based in the theology of Anselm of Canterberry where the purpose of the Incarnation is to restore right relationship with God. I understand this theologically from a Christian understanding of salvation. However, spiritually, I find binaries difficult. If I believe my faith in God is based in this notion of right relationship with God, other, self, and creation, then most days I don’t live up to that. By the end of the day, I end up in wrong relationships. That’s a crummy way to go to bed every night. So, I have modified this understanding of justice to “be in better relationship.” I can handle striving for better relationships daily with God, others, self, and all of creation. Some days I do better than others. But, most days I can say at least one of those forms of relationship was made better that day.
The righteousness from God, then, adds to the wisdom needed to inform my life toward better relationships. Like a solid compass, it helps direct me in steering a rightwise course. Philippians 3:9 “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.” (NRSV translation) Or “And may be found in him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ Jesus, which is of God, justice in faith” (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition) serves as wonderful passage for a navigational faith tool in a wonderful-ugly-painful-joyfilled-complicated world in which we prepare during this season of Advent to welcome and deeply encounter new incarnational experiences based in the belief of the mystery born from the baby we call Jesus.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for navigational faith tools! Amen.
Dr. Neomi De Anda was a Theologian-in-Residence at First Church Boulder during the fall of 2021.