Righteousness. Justice. Peace. Mercy. Humility. Goodness. Faithfulness. Truthfulness. Compliance. Generosity. Forgiveness. Empathy. Sincerity. Trust. Lowliness. Inclusiveness. Defenselessness. Letting people in.
Where did these words come from? They come from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. These are either words Jesus uses or descriptive words to capture the essence of what Jesus taught. At any rate, they are close to His heart. That’s why I colored them red. If you want to be red letter, then you need to be comfortable with these qualities, and indeed, seeking to make them part of your life.
Now for some words that are conspicuously not included in this list: Success. Pride. Reputation. Wealth. Position. Power. Hierarchy. Intolerance. Defensiveness. War. Judgment. Exclusiveness. Law. Discrimination. Keeping people out.
Where did these words come from? These are qualities or attitudes that are not included in the Sermon on the Mount, or if they are, they are warned against. In most cases, they are not only not a part of what makes up a Jesus follower, they are condemned by Jesus, as with judgment, pride and wealth. They are antithetical to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God operates on the basis of the first list.
And yet, the qualities in the second list are most common to our culture, especially now in America, and many have crept into the church where they are not only tolerated, they are justified. This is why Jesus was, is, and will always be countercultural — in the culture and in the church. The red letters run largely against human nature. It takes the presence of the Holy Spirit to work these qualities into our lives, putting us in compliance with His will. And it takes a community of believers who champion these qualities together to keep us on track. This is why the Catch community exists.
Tack the red list on your refrigerator, or at least the refrigerator of your mind. These are qualities to contemplate, to understand more deeply, and to take on. These are red letter values that will identify us as true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ and set us apart from the prevailing spirit of the age.