Be good, be good, be good, be good, be good, be good … be good, Johnny
We are “men at work,” aren’t we? (I know … really bad pun, right?!) We are “men” at work, and we work hard to do things like, be a good person. We don’t do it selfishly (at least in our minds). We have, in so many ways, genuinely convinced ourselves that it’s what God wants. And it’s certainly something that the world around us preaches. As a society we place high value on tolerance and inclusion, multiple paths and general goodness. All to often, as Christians, we hose down our faith and reduce it to general statements of “God is Love” and The Golden Rule. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is absolutely biblical and was part of Jesus’ answer to the question of “what is the greatest commandment?” (Matthew 22:36) But loving God is the other critical part of that answer (Matthew 22:37-40), and how we or the world would define “loving our neighbor” quite often doesn’t look anything like God’s way.
There are two serious untruths that are common to the culture in which we live. They might sound good, but they are completely untrue. The first is this…
It doesn’t matter what you believe. God just wants you to be sincere.
Sounds good, right? And it certainly sounds like the culture that we live in today. This is our high value on tolerance and inclusion. A society where everyone has a seat on the bus and all the buses are headed to the same destination. This may sound good, but we need to be clear that God never said it. What did He say?
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Here’s what Jesus said … “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This sounds nothing like “it doesn’t matter what you believe.” This sounds nothing like the inclusive, tolerant, many ways to God “gospel” the world preaches. This is Jesus making things very clear and very specific. There is no room to broaden or generalize here. This is one way, one truth and one life … and that is Jesus.
Be a good person
Another common untruth is that…
God just wants you to be a good person.
Again, that sounds good and it certainly sounds like the world we live in today, but like the untruth we just discussed, God never said this one either. So, what did He say?
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Yeah, this is not language that even hints at us being good, this is a specific truth that everyone has sinned and everyone falls short. And in response, there is no suggestion that striving to be good or “better” is the way to solve the “sinned” problem. The solution, the cure, is in what Jesus did for us — the redemption that came by Him taking all our sins to the cross and dying for them.
Make a decision
God is not interested in your sincerity or your goodness. What God really said, and what He really wants is for you to see that you are a sinner and see that the only remedy for that sin is what Jesus did on the cross. He wants you to come to a place where you see yourself truly, you see Him truly, and then make a decision. He wants you to choose the narrow way … the only way. The way that leads to, and through Jesus. Stop trying to be good. Stop trying to be sincere. Choose Him. Follow Him.