Have you ever said something and wished you could take it back? For me, it is too many times to count. Like our words, our sin is like a cat out of the bag: once out, it is impossible to get it back in. If we try to make a bad situation better, we seem to mess it up. Paul says in Romans that the law cannot make us righteous. Once the cat of sin is out, no amount of effort can correct the situation. We keep messing it up.
Into this mess that we created, God comes through Jesus and offers a gift of righteousness by faith. How does faith appropriate righteousness? What does faith change? How does it clean up our mess? I can come up with endless anecdotes of people of faith changing the world through good deeds. But the mechanism of faith being our righteousness is harder to describe.
Into this difficult description, Paul proposes a simple, yet profound, answer: Jesus. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can regain the righteousness and wholeness that was intended for humanity. Somehow in the acceptance of what Jesus did, we come back to life. In some ways life is not what we put into it but what we receive from God. True humanity is found in receiving. Living in faith and gratitude releases the power of heaven to change our mess.