Good, Moral People Still Need Jesus
When talking to many about their relationship with Jesus, they often deny they have any need for religion or Jesus because they are already good, moral people. They say, “I treat other people right. I give to charities. I’m honest in my business dealings. Isn’t that enough to get me into heaven? I don’t really need the trappings of organized religion. In fact, I’m better than many of those hypocrites who go to church!”
Others might even add, “I go to church with my spouse/children/friends. I’m active in church ministries. I give every week to the work of the church. Surely that is enough to spend eternity with God!”
I can understand this perspective because it is a message that Christians have inadvertently communicated to others. We have so emphasized doing good works and avoiding sinful behavior that we have left the impression that this is the core message of our faith, i.e., good works can save us and ensure a home in heaven.
Christianity is about God reclaiming his creation from the forces of darkness through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Sure, sin is to be avoided and as God’s image-bearers we are to do good in his name. However, in Christ, God is asking all humans to make a commitment to him as Creator and Lord instead of our own will, our culture, or some false ideology. It is about trusting in Christ to empower us to live and allowing God to renew our relationship with him in spite of our ability to be perfectly good and moral. It is about God’s promise to preserve all those who trust in Jesus for an eternal relationship with him in the new heaven and earth. It is about our resurrection as a new humanity to accomplish our divine vocation in a new Eden.
The problem with depending on our own goodness and morality is we deceive ourselves. NONE of us are as good as we think we are and ALL of us minimize our own sinfulness. Our issue is that we compare ourselves with others. There will always be those with whom we can compare ourselves favorably. The standard we should use is God himself, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). None of us can earn heaven by our own goodness.
Beside, the fact that we cannot earn our salvation, there is the issue of mortality and death. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the beginning, they lost their perfect communion with God and access to everlasting life. They became subject to death and all humanity with them, For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a). We, like the first couple, inherit those wages. No amount of good done in this life can insulate us from the cold hand of death. However, Paul continues, But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b). The only way to forgiveness, resurrection, eternal life, and full communion with God is through a commitment to Jesus Christ.
Sunday, my lesson will be an illustration of that. Cornelius was a good, moral man, but he still needed Jesus.