I sat and heard a story from a Christian who talked about his boss who previously “cursed like a sailor.” He talked about how that boss started by not cursing around him because he knew he was a Christian and he didn’t want to offend him. He talked about how over time the boss stopped cursing all together and that brought this Christian joy. He said he recognized that his boss wasn’t a Christian, but basically, at least he didn’t curse any more.
Few things pain me as much as hearing how happy Christians are with people being good. Happy to the point of contentment. Happy to the point of satisfaction. Happy that people’s behaviors are not offensive.
The problem is that you are reinforcing a different religion. Now, those practicing that religion might not call it that, but that’s essentially what it is – a religion of humanistic moralism. (Maybe you prefer I call it humanism or something else to be technical, but this is not a technical blog).
The neo-atheistic movement claims that people can be pretty good and overly moral without religion. I wouldn’t disagree completely. So why is this such a powerful statement? It is because we’ve made Christianity, and all religions, about being good.
So when Christians are happy to have “good kids” come out of years of sunday school, children’s church, and youth group, we’ve settled for being moral over being Christian. For many, being good equals being Christian but in anything that is not fueled by Christ we cannot call Christianity. It may look similar to Christianity from the outside, but that’s just the behavior. It may even look better than some Christians, nicer, more graceful, but it’s not Christian; it’s being good. It’s being nice. It’s reliant on your ability to be these things. It ignores Jesus in John 15:5.
Being a Christian means you are reliant on Christ not only for your salvation, but as the whole motivation and transforming power in your life. He changes you on the inside and that works it way out into your behaviours. There are behavioral implications of being a Christian, but they are the outworkings of an inward working. They are secondary to what primarily is happening, ongoing, to your heart and mind as you are filled with Christ by the Holy Spirit.
If you’re good, that’s great. But I want you to know Christ. I want you to behold Him and rely on Him. I want you to lay down your ways, to turn from the path you’re on, even if it’s a good path, for The Way – Jesus Christ. Give up good for the greatness of God. I am interested in you becoming a follower of Christ. Maybe you’ll be a good person, but that’s because Christ has transformed you, motivating you inwardly, empowering you through the Holy Spirit, to act differently.
I’m sure your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers are all happier when you’re moral and good. I’m sure you feel some self satisfaction at your comparative goodness when you look around. But my brothers and sisters in Christ, we call that self-righteousness because you are righteous in and by your self. This is not Christianity, and if Christianity is your banner and your claim, then you cannot be simply be happy enough in being good. If you could, why did Jesus have to come and die on the cross? If you do, you’re missing the transforming power of Christ.