Good on diagnosis I think…
As for cure…
Dealing with self-righteousness takes more than pointing out its folly. Or showing the broad vistas of human discovery that open up when we “step outside the tiny terrified space of rightness”. Maybe it’s just me, but the minute I make that step on the road to open-hearted humility, I start to feel superior to all those prudes, stuck in their “tiny spaces.” Is that just me? Or is it also Ms Schulz? And everyone who gets the “right” idea about wrongness?
Note how Jesus seeks to free us from self-righteousness in Matthew 6 (I recently wrote about it at the King’s English). Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t care about reward and being seen. Just do good people, it’s not hard.”
No. Jesus knows we care deeply about being seen. He knows we care deeply about reward. And He doesn’t seek to deny those urges for a second. He just re-orients where we seek those things. Instead we are to seek them in our Father who is unseen.
Same with rightness. You can’t just say “Don’t get hung up on being right.” We’re built to be right – for the Father to declare us “holy in His sight” (Col 1:22), for the Son to say “there is no flaw in you” (Song 4:7). We can’t just laugh off our silly rightness crusades as an easily discarded hang-up.
Our need to be right mustn’t be denied, but fulfilled. Fulfilled apart from any of our efforts or qualities, but no less fulfilled. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I think it’s true – the way to relinquish our petty insistence on rightness is to know that we’re perfect.