Your Goodness is Not the Gospel

I stopped my thoughts before they escaped into words, checking their pockets for hidden slights or contraband foolishness. I might not even say them at all… Just to be safe. There was too much chance they might offend. And who knows what would happen to the eternal soul of some poor listener if I unwittingly ruined the Good News of God with some imperfect pronouncement?

My actions went through the same rigor. I scrupulously weighed them in light of how they might affect my witness to God. I had come to believe that I was the only bible some people would ever read, and that weight was enormous. In my mind, how well I seemed to keep the imperatives of the bible (and those inferred and tacked on by various other Christians for good measure) was indicative of how many people I could lead to Jesus.

I wish someone had told me that my goodness wasn’t the Good News.

The Strangest Thing Happened…

Something peculiar happened to the world while God hung dying on a crossbeams between two thieves. A strange thing occurred three days later when a dead man got up, calmly folded his death shroud and walked out of his tomb. Our entire lineage changed.

Before, we looked over our sagging shoulder and saw Adam in the distance—our failed forefather. In him, we were chained to the letter of the law of God, bound to rules that only highlighted our failure to keep them. And there was a long line of our failure stretching out behind us. Then that thing happened.

One day, we looked over our shoulder and didn’t see Adam shrugging apologetically from the grave. We saw Jesus. Further, we saw that long line of failures replaced with perfection.

Being Good Isn’t Good Enough

The problem isn’t being good, or the desire to be good, or that good works are bad, or that we should just do whatever we want whenever we want because, screw you. The problem is that we looked at the rules and immediately wanted to break them. Something about us sees a Don’t Walk on the Grass! sign and sets up a picnic right then and there. As good as any rule about loving others might be, it’s just dried ink on a piece of paper, or a voice lost on the wind.

I’ve never met a single person who became a Christian because of how well someone else kept the rules. I’ve met a lot of people who were revolted by religion because of how well people thought they kept the rules. God made a way to him, and it wasn’t being good. It was Jesus.

The Good News is that Jesus came. The Good News is that God loves you and accepts you just as you are. The Good News is that God’s Spirit lives in us, changing us to look more like God. And if we walk in that Spirit, we’ll find ourselves loving more. And, because of Jesus, we might just get some people asking us to tell them some good news.

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