Monday, January 30, 2006

Some Thoughts on Being A Good Person

Yes, I DO believe that there are good people and bad people. Good and evil definitely do, according to my belief, exist. God creates each of us good, but as human beings exist in a fallen state, we are all quite capable of evil -- perhaps even prone to it. I believe that we should aspire to the highest standard of perfection possible, but that since only God is really perfect -- and we are not God -- we are not perfectible.

That having been established, I have a few insights about some very real differences between good people and bad people:

* Good people recognize their obligation to BE good people, first and foremost. Whatever else they consider themselves (Christian, Jew, atheist, Republican, Democrat, etc.) comes strictly after that, and is subordinate to it at all times and in all situations.

* It is a full-time job for each and every good person to STAY a good person. Those who spend their time obsessing over the morality of others are refusing to meet their responsibility to be good people, themselves. Absolutely nobody is saintly or angelic enough to remain a good person -- or even to achieve goodness in the first place -- if he or she is always busy keeping tabs on the conduct of others.

* Good people learn to get along with one another -- despite any differences they may have between them -- for the sake of the greater good. Those who refuse to do this, putting political party, religious denomination, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class or whatever else divides us before the general greater good, are bad people. And this is true regardless of the fact that they may claim they are whatever they are either because they are good people, or because those they oppose are "bad."

* Good people regard an argument, with those with whom they disagree, as an opportunity to arrive at the truth. Bad people simply want to "win," regardless of the truth.

* It is going to take good people -- genuinely good ones, not self-aggrandizing phonies -- to save the United States of America, the Christian Church and the civilized world.

* Just because people SAY that they are good, that doesn't mean that they are. As a matter of fact, the people who most loudly proclaim their own goodness are usually the worst of the lot.

* Being a good person will not save anyone from the wrath of God. No matter HOW good you or I may try to be, we will NEVER be good enough to merit God's favor by our own efforts. We may be saved only by God's awesome and unfathomable grace. Those who use their "Christian faith" to condemn other people have either totally forgotten that, or else they never knew it in the first place. THIS is the real message of Jesus Christ.

It is Christ who offers us the chance for a loving, personal relationship with the Living God. "Being a Christian" won't save you; accepting that relationship, and the grace of God that flows so abundantly from it, is what gives you the hope and promise of salvation. Making it all about creeds and doctrines is an attempt to make it all about us. But it is "about us" only in a secondary sense. Primarily and always, it is about God.

"Only God is good," said Jesus. Who also told us that we "must be perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect." It seems a riddle, wrapped inside an enigma. If only God is good, then how can we even be slightly good, much less perfect?

Follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Live, laugh and love -- extravagantly and with reckless abandon -- as He did. But don't look to our modern-day, self-proclaimed "good people" for any guidance on how to do that. Their forebears didn't know what real goodness is, so they condemned Jesus as "bad" and murdered Him. The self-proclaimed "good people" chose to be His enemies then, and their descendants choose the same path now.

Jesus said that those who follow His teaching and example belong to Him, and that those who don't do not. It may not always be easy to follow Him, but it's certainly simple enough to understand how. Those who try to change the qualifications for being a Christian to anything other than this are neither Christians nor good people. They are the very children of Hell. This describes a great many of those on the Religious Right -- and as children of Hell, they will inherit Hell.

It is also quite possible to be a good person, even if you are NOT a Christian. A great many liberal Christians, by watering down the qualifications for being a Christian, apparently, to simply being good, fail to understand that. And in so doing, they manage to insult every non-Christian good person on the planet.

Whatever it does or does not mean to be a good person, we are always wrong when we define it in ways designed to please ourselves. What's good is not what pleases us -- it is what pleases God.


At 3:58 AM, Blogger Biblestudent said...

I was interested in your comments and wanted to reply.
The reference to God being the ultimate standard of Goodness
is found in the bible at Mark 10:17-22. From the account it
is clear that Jesus set the example of trying to help
everyone, regardless of his or her status or condition,
rich or poor. He knew he would give his life for
Another reference - Matt 7:1 says to “stop judging that
You may not be judged.” And in Ephesians 4:22-24 we are urged
To put on the new personality according to God’s will.
God’s word has the power to change human hearts. Heb 4:12.
The point I am trying to make is that God is the ultimate
standard of Goodness and these texts make it clear that He
wants us to strive to meet these standards that He sets. Not that
we decide for ourselves and are choosey when we don’t like it.


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