November 23rd – The Root of the Good Life

For fifty years the most famous teacher and thinker in ancient Greece was Socrates. He spent his life asking ordinary citizens such questions as: ‘What is justice?, What is right?, What is fair?, What is the good life?’ – in a word, ‘What is the just society?’. Among the many young thinkers attracted to him were Alcibiades, Xenaphon, Critas, and his greatest pupil of all, Plato. When most of us began studying philosophy – the science of attempting to discover ultimate reality – we were directed to the great genius, Plato. His ‘Republic’ is a superb piece of thinking in any age, and remember, he lived about 400 years before the Christian era.
Now you would not expect me to try to set out thumbnail edition of Plato’s and Socrates’ answers to the big issue ‘What is the just society’”. All I have space to mention here is that to these great minds justice was supreme and justice was an essence from an ideal world which could only be distilled by the minds of philosopher kings. Now compare that idea of justice, or the just society, with the words of Habakkuk, who could well have lived over two centuries before Plato was even born.
The Hebrew prophet grappled with this vast issue, and was shown that the just life, the good life, the ideal society, was not some intangible essence, but was a personal characteristic. God is just. Only God is just and fair and good – and the only way we can glimpse, let alone enjoy, the good life, the just society, is by walking in living faith with God. In that relationship it rubs off. Like Father – like sons and like daughters. “The Just shall live by faith” – the good news of Christian salvation: the text of the entire letter of the Romans: the great watchword of the Reformation: the Gospel in a nutshell. Only our restored relationship with God produces fidelity, integrity – in a word ‘faith’, and only that can produce the ‘Good Life’. That’s why Habakkuk is so important in religious world history. He wrestled with God, and was shown a truth so profound, that it has affected human life on earth for over two and a half millennia. Paul’s monumental Letter to the Romans is an exposition of Habakkuk 2:4
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith”. Romans 1: 16-17
A Prayer: For myself, for all those I love, for all your people throughout the world: Lord enable me to walk with you by faith each step of the way.
Now read Romans Chapter 4.

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