Franchuk: We are not good people
April 16. 2013 5:48PM
Most of us operate in the world on the assumption that people are basically good – that is, most people understand and follow basic principles of honesty, charity and good will. So when people in our societies do horrific things, we tend to view those acts as outliers, as aberrations from the norm. Most of us would never classify ourselves with, say, the Sandy Hook shooter or the abortionist who ran a "house of horrors" clinic and is now on trial in Philadelphia facing eight charges of murder (one adult woman and seven infants).
But Jesus exposes the shallowness of our claims to be "good people." In Mark 10:17-18, when a rich young man addressed him as "Good Teacher," Jesus responded, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." There are two implications here. The first is that Jesus is actually equal with God the Father. Whenever I read this passage I wonder if Jesus had a knowing smile as he asked this. But the second implication is that there are no human beings who are truly good, because God alone is good. All others fall short of his standard of goodness: you, me, Gandhi, everybody.
It's hard to include ourselves under that blanket of not-goodness. But the Bible continues, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)
Jesus further testified that "from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within." (Mark 7:21-23)
What does this mean for us? Is God a misanthrope who loathes humanity? Should we go about reviling ourselves as vermin?
Amazingly, God loves the world and gave his only Son to die for sinners and rise again. God made human beings in his own image and so imbued us with value and glory as his image-bearers. So our badness before the perfect holiness of God doesn't mean we should all just give up and mope about until we die. It means we should despair of ourselves and our own efforts to be good. We should consider our righteousness as compared to God, not to others. Sure, there are varying degrees of "goodness" human-to-human. Some people are genuinely kinder than others, etc. But when we think about righteousness, the kind that matters, the kind that God considers, we should have a very dim view of ourselves and a very high view of Jesus Christ. It should drive us to fall on Jesus and trust Jesus alone for our standing before God - not our purported good deeds, nor our upstanding citizenship, nor our support of causes progressive or conservative. If you're trusting in your own "good person" status to get right with God or go to Heaven, I humbly urge you to reconsider, turn from that self-confidence and put all your hope and faith in Jesus Christ.