Our Concert on the Lawn is this Saturday from 4:30-7:00PM (concert will begin at 5:00). There will be free food and great music. This event is an excellent opportunity to invite friends or family members who are not part of a Gospel-centered church to experience the hospitality of Our Saviour and to hear the good news of Jesus Christ!
A few weeks ago, I was on vacation playing golf with a faithful brother-in-Christ and we were paired with a couple of people: a man and a woman, probably in their mid-40s. About halfway through our round I asked them if they had any spiritual beliefs or a background in church. Their response was typical. The man replied by telling me he had grown up Roman Catholic, but was no longer involved with that Church. I hear that fairly often, but what the woman said was even more typical. She replied by saying something like, “I didn’t grow up in a religious family and I am not religious now, I would call myself more ‘spiritual’.” When I asked her what she meant by that she said, “We try to be good people, treat people kindly, and live ethically.” As if trying to justify herself to me, she continued to say, “We’re probably better than most people who go to church.” She ended her explanation by telling me she thought that she was, certainly, good enough.
I do not know if I could make up a more typical conversation with a person who does not understand the weight of their sin and desire to humbly submit their life to Jesus Christ. Outside of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ this is only one of two ways a person can potentially think. You either believe the lie that you can be good enough on your own to merit the acceptance of the God of the universe or you are foolish enough (the Bible’s words, not mine – Psalm 14) to believe God doesn’t exist. If a person believes God does not exist, that is another conversation all together. As for this woman, who believes she is good enough to merit God’s favor on her own, I am usually left with one or two important questions. If virtue is the goal, what is the standard? Who sets the scale? In other words, if being good is enough, how good must you be and who decides if you are good enough?
The answer to the first question seems to vary quite a bit. However, I’ve yet to meet someone who believes they will not meet the standard of virtue. The answer to the second question has to be that each person sets the scale of goodness in their own lives and, if that is the case, God is no longer God, but you have become god, deciding what is right and wrong, deciding what is acceptable and unacceptable, and determining who is worthy of praise and who should be exalted. As you can see, things become inconsistent and troubling fairly quickly.
What this woman on the golf course and billions of people around the world need to have their eyes opened to is the truth that God is the One who sets the scale of virtue and the work of ordinary humans is not impressive to Him. Before that sounds harsh and final, remember that there is a more beautiful truth; God is a God of impossible standards (we want Him to be this way…if He is only slightly better than us, He is not worthy of our worship and He should not be in control. Only a holy, good God should rule the universe), yet He does not expect us to live up to those standards. Instead, He has embraced us in our fallen condition and He came among us to meet those standards, bear the penalty for our lack of ability, and defeat the punishment for our iniquity. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of God’s one and only Son, Jesus, when we put our faith in Him, we can be sure that He will forgive us of our sins and pronounce us not-guilty on the day of judgment. That’s the good news of Jesus Christ.
Many people do not know this good news and are still trying to live good enough lives to merit the favor of God. The narrative at the beginning of Luke 7 is an example of some believing God may be coerced into showing grace to humans, while one man fears God and understands where true faith begins; in seeing God for who He truly is. This Sunday I will be asking people how good is good enough? We’ll let Jesus give us the answer. I hope you will be there.
For the sake of His name,