Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goodness

Kindness is a pretty clear concept... so why do we continue to be so ineffective in it? I have a theory. We're less interested in being kind, than we are in looking good. Many people in Christendom have bought into the idea that if “I'm a good person, then Jesus will love and accept me,” even though the Bible clearly teaches that this is not the case:

Psalm 14:2-3

The Lord looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!

I've never understood the concept about how “goodness” leads to conversion. “If I act like a good person, then I am a Christian,” is totally false doctrine. The Bible clearly says that we must believe in Christ, confess that he is Lord of our lives, repent of our sins, get baptized, symbolizing the death to our sin and our new life in Jesus, and walk in His footsteps every day. That is conversion, and if you have followed that, then the Bible says you can call yourself a Christian.

But there is a problem. You see, while most Christians to agree on the fact that being “good” cannot save you, we fall into a pretty awful trap: “Well, if I just act like a good person, then people will realize I am a Christian, and they will wonder what it is about me that makes me different, and then they will discover I am a Christian, and then they will want to become a Christian too.” Does anyone know of even one person who was brought to Christ in this manner? Even Jesus had to explain who He was... why should we feel that our lives are worthy of showing Christ's love any better than His own?

To truly be good, and to truly exemplify this concept, we need to first admit that we could not be good without Jesus, and accept his gift of salvation. Once we call ourselves Christians, we go into the mode of show-and-tell. In no way am I saying that trying to be a “good person” is a bad thing... it's just ineffective to leading other people to Christ.

For instance, if you just randomly decide to pay for someone's meal at a restaurant, but do not tell them why, they'll probably think, “Wow, that was really nice of that person,” but I doubt they'll leap to, “They're probably a Christian, so I should become a Christian too.” If you do good, tell people why you're doing it! Teach people that God loves you, and because He loves you and has commanded you to love others, you're doing that to show them that God loves THEM as well.

Every conversion in the Bible has some aspect of “show-and-tell.” Even the apostles, who could whip out some pretty cool stunts in order to “show” people the power of Christ, made sure to explain that it was through faith in Jesus that they were able to perform all their miracles.

So this week, as you try to do good, remember to take it the whole way. Don't just tell, and don't just show, but make sure that both are working together for the good of the kingdom.