Do we have the concept of a good person wrong? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
There’s a story about a professional basketball player who would often distance himself from his female fans, particularly since some female fans will have a tendency to really throw themselves at an athlete they admire. When asked why he would do this since so many other women were offended he replied, “If any woman is going to be offended, it’s not going to be my wife!” His first duty was to honor her and to do that, he would not even risk an event like that.
Yesterday, I started writing about Moral Therapeutic Theism. (MTT) One of the views of God in this is that Jesus came to make us be good people. We are often told that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Indeed, this is true. Yet this is a horizontal command. That is, it is a command about how man is to relate to man. It is often forgotten that this is the SECOND greatest command. The greatest is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
#2 will make no sense without #1. If you do not love God, your love of man will be useless. If you put man before God, you are guilty of idolatry. The love of God must be foremost in your mind. Remember we love because He first loved us. The only way we can love our fellow man is because we have received the love of God. Even if we don’t acknowledge it, there are traces of God’s love all around us.
Yet our reasoning has by and large been horizontal. We do not speak out on sin in the world because we want to be good people. We don’t want to judge anyone. We don’t want to be critical. That’s not what Jesus would do to anyone after all is it?
Go read the NT, come back, and tell otherwise.
Of course, Jesus had love and grace and still does. Who was it towards? It was towards the people who knew about their sin and acknowledged it. Jesus never once made light of sin. He knew it was a serious consequence. Even in the case of the adulterous woman, He never denied the sin. He told her to go and sin no more. He dealt more seriously with the sin of hypocrisy he saw around Him and people who were wanting to use this woman for their own evil intentions.
Go read a chapter like Matthew 23. Go read most any conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Go read a passage like Luke 11. Jesus did not have any patience for people who were thinking they were righteous and not in any need of a savior.
If you do not have a problem with sin in your fellow man, then you are not loving God. Now you can be wrong in how you deal with it, but you have to realize that God does not coddle the sin of people He sees around Him. Christ sought to remove people from that bondage. He never sought to enable them in it.
If you make the love of man paramount and not offending your fellow man, meaning not dealing with evil when you see it, then you are not loving God. Keep in mind John in his gospel told us about people who did not come forward in support of Jesus because they wanted the honor of man more than the honor of God.
Now this doesn’t mean you’re to go out there as if you have no sin and go after everyone for every sin they commit. Yet you are not to turn a blind eye either. How you speak will be important and that will be learned only through the study of wisdom.
Our modern world has got us thinking the opposite. We are of the opinion that we are not to rock the boat at all. If the apostles had not rocked the boat, there would be no Christianity. Go read the epistles and see how seriously Paul took sin in the midst of the church. Go read Acts and see the forthrightness of the apostles. Go read Revelation and see how God judges sin. (Regardless of your views on eschatology, you can’t read Revelation and walk away thinking God takes sin lightly.)
A good person is not someone who just gets along with everyone. A good person is one who values what God values and opposes what God opposes. To be a truly good person today, one will have to know God. Note also that a good person is not the same necessarily as a nice person. A good person will do what he or she ought to do and not simply what will make people around them happy. In fact, if you’re a good person, you will quite often make people unhappy, much like Christ did.
Once again, there is no condemnation about being good. What is asked is that we be good the way God desires us to be. The world is not to set the bar for what is good. Goodness is found in God fundamentally and essentially and we must meet His criteria.
Originally posted at Nick Peters’s blog, Deeper Waters.