I think I would consider myself “a good person”, I mean by all standards if you met me and had a conversation with me, if you hung out with me a couple of times, you would realize I’m extremely polite, I don’t really have any vices, I’m respectful, I go to church on Sundays, I say my prayers at night, I obey the law, I do the occasional good deed ,I’m always fair and I’m mostly nice even when I don’t want to be, I’m all for social justice and human rights, so yeah, if there was some arbitrary measurement scale where peoples good deeds and kindness are measured, I would probably score pretty well. I’m an all-around “good person”, whatever that may mean.
One bible passage that always strikes me as rather interesting, is the conversation between the rich young man and Jesus Christ, first off he starts the conversation by asking “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’, before Jesus even addressed the question, he asked him ‘Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is God’. That sobered up all my self righteousness pretty fast. Really? Not even one? Yep, he said, none.
So stop. Stop trying to be a good person. I’m going to be honest and say that being a good person will not get you anywhere with God. I mean people will like you, they will love to be around you, they will call you nice, they will say you are responsible, your goodness might even be recognized internationally, but when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really mean much to God, because no matter how good you are you will never be good enough, you could really, really try to be the best person in the world, you can keep all the rules, always dot your t’s and cross your I’s but sadly it just won’t cut it.
There was a time when I thought being a Christian was about being a good person, I really did, I thought as long as you followed the rules, you went to church, you did the right thing, and then you get an automatic passport to heaven, and I mean being good all the time is hard!, it’s very hard, it’s exhausting, it’s restrictive, it’s by and large very impossible. Some days I don’t want to be good, I want to be selfish, I want to have a smart mouth and check someone who is talking reckless, I want to have a bad attitude, I don’t want to go to church, I don’t want to think of countless rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, the weight of responsibility of being good and perfect will crush you, being good by God’s standards is humanly impossible.
So what makes us “good’’ or “acceptable” before God, only Jesus Christ, that’s it plain and simple, I have been a “Christian” for most of life and I just finally accepted and understood. We are only made righteous by Christ, not 70 days prayer and fasting, not endless night vigils, not going for/attending endless Christian conferences and revivals, not volunteering in the ministry, not healing the sick, not counselling, not providing shelter for the poor and needy, not paying our tithes, not sowing seeds, not evangelism, not participating in spiritual warfare, not religious dogma nothing but Jesus.
This is so liberating because what it simply means is that you come as you are, come with your struggles, come with your weaknesses, come with your strengths, come with your imperfections, come with all and everything that you are, God just wants you to come, believe and accept, and let him do the work of transforming and conforming you to the image of his son, that I may add is just a natural process of Christ taking over your life, not a prerequisite of acceptance. Christ is what makes you right with God, the good deeds are by products, always keep that in mind.
It’s funny how when all was said and done, regarding the rich young man and Jesus, when he got down to it, he really couldn’t give what was the most important thing of all – He couldn’t give himself, to receive the gift of eternal life. Oh! the rich young man was willing and ready to do things, we are always so ready to do works , actions, deeds, we’re so ready to do so many things, but God doesn’t care about that, what he wants is our heart, our willingness, he knows our works. What we count as righteousness are as filthy rags to him, that’s why he wants our hearts, that’s what he can work with, with an emphasis on him doing the work and not us.