Good People

14 Oct
A really basic misunderstanding has come to my attention. A lot of people think that Christians are Good People.
More specifically, that
a) you’d have to be a Good Person to even think of being a Christian
b) that once you’ve decided to be a Christian, you are then doomed to a lifetime of trying to be a Good Person, because you’re afraid that otherwise God will zap you
and
c) you’ve got to try as hard as you can to be a Good Person to get to Heaven.
Wow. Not sure that anything could be more the opposite of what the Bible actually says.
Starting at c), if Good People "go to Heaven", how unfair would that be?! Where on earth would you draw the line between people who have been good enough, and people who just miss out? Most people, I think, would draw the line just below themselves… heh heh. And also, Heaven would then be filled with stuck-up self-righteous people (in the most literal sense of the word), congratulating themselves on how Good they’ve been and how much they deserve to be in Heaven, not like those infidels who racked up the library fines…
a) Au contraire. Part of becoming a Christian is coming to the point where you realise that you are just not a Good Person, and that frankly there is no way you are ever going to live up to your own morals, let alone come anywhere close to the pure holiness of God. And being completely humbled by the fact that God loves you so much that even though you are like some kind of cockroach compared to him, Jesus came and lived a perfect life on your behalf, and then took the rap for all your most secret bad attitudes and rubbish stuff you’ve done. People seem to think God is into "smiting". Well, he smote his own Son rather than smite us.
The Bible is rather clear about this. e.g. Ephesians 2:8 says "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast."
and b) – here is the real crux of the misunderstanding. If being a Good Person can’t get you to Heaven, but only grace, why do Christians try to live a good life now? Well, it ain’t just about "going to Heaven". It starts now. If you really believe that God’s done such an amazing thing to rescue you, then you will be damn grateful and want to do what makes him happy! But more than that, when you decide to follow Christ, you recieve the Holy Spirit – God himself – who lives in you and starts to change you. He shows you what is godly and what is not, and gives you strength to follow the godly things, strength not to follow the crowd. It’s not that Christians are always straining to try and be Good People. It’s that God changes your attitudes, little by little, until they are more like his, and with his strength you can live more as he intends – "your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
"Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galations 5) Does that sound like being a Good Person? Yes – but it’s not something that Christians muster up by themselves. It’s only by giving up, and letting the Spirit be in charge in instead that he will begin to change us. And sometimes we don’t listen to him and take control again, and that’s when we mess up.
So please understand – Christians aren’t Good People and can’t be Good People. For me, this is somewhat of a relief! But God first goes out of his way to forgive, and then begins to change you back into the person he always meant for you to be.
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One Response to “Good People”

  1. Denise 14/10/2005 at 10:28 pm #

    Amen sister And what a relief….! It's all perfectly encapsulated in that awesome old hymn, Before the throne of God above…. When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within – Upward I look and see him thereWho made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless saviour died, My sinful soul is counted free… For God the Just is satisfied, To look on him and pardon me! nothing to do with having been good. preach it mel! Francis xxxx

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