This question was implied in a part of today's sermon, and it's gotten me to thinking.
The guest pastor who was preaching, spoke about how frequently we're told the the Bible that Jesus was good, or we're to do good (in just 5 minutes I came up with these 8 passages:Matthew 24:45-47, Matthew 26:9-11, Mark 3:3-5, Acts 10:37-39, Romans 2:6-8, Romans 12:20-21, Galations 6:8-10, 1 Peter 3:14-16 and there are lots more). He was NOT saying that we are saved by doing good; the Bible is very clear that salvation is by the gift of faith in Jesus' work on the cross that God gives to His people. He was just saying that repeatedly we find this lifestyle of doing good in the Bible; and it's a lifestyle for which God's followers should be known. The pastor was contrasting doing good to being right because, in our culture, it seems that Christians are much more concerned about being right and doing right than about being good.
As the pastor was talking about this I found myself asking What is the difference between doing right and doing good, what does that look like? I was fascinated by this whole concept. He gave a couple of examples. One of the examples he gave really resounded for me because it's an issue that I've long struggled with; I was delighted by his insight on how having an attitude to do good as our guiding notion, rather than to be right, impacts this specific situation.
The situation was with regard to gender confusion and homosexuality. He was talking about giving advice to the parent of a teen who is having gender confusion and questions about her sexuality and homosexuality. He pointed out that if our main concern is being right we have 2 polar extremes to choose from: On the one hand we have the people who are certain that to be gay or bi-sexual is just who you are and it's your right to be who you are, that young people should be encouraged to come out and proudly be who they are. On the other hand you have people who are certain that to be gay or bi-sexual is a sin and that the teen who has these issues will never experience true freedom until she repents of this sin. But, if our main concern is doing good we will not interact with our child on the basis of if what she is dealing with is right or wrong. The good thing for a parent would be love; that the teen would know that her parents will be there for her no matter what, that they are not going anywhere, that she knows she can always count on them.
This was extra relevant for my husband John and I currently because he has a 19yr old relative who appears to be engaging in the gay lifestyle. At the last couple of family gatherings she's brought a friend who seems lesbian. I've gone out of my way to be friendly and inclusive toward this friend because it can be somewhat uncomfortable to be around a friend's family, easy to not feel a part of things. I've always enjoyed this specific relative, so I've made sure to spend time with both her and her friend at recent gatherings.
When I look at Jesus, I see Him participating in social events with sinners. I get the impression that He sincerely enjoyed people. Romans 1:18-21 tells me that I can see God's invisible qualities and nature through His creation. The creation is beautiful and calls out to be enjoyed; there are so many things in nature that appear to beautiful and melodic without a specific purpose. I tend to think that this shows me that God wants us to experience pleasure and enjoyment. To let our hearts soar when we look at a sunset, hear the song of water rushing over the rocks, feel the breeze caress our skin. To delight in the people in our lives.
I'm not sure how to put this into words, but somewhere in my heart I'm convinced that by loving people, sincerely enjoying them, I'm living Christ's lifestyle. That it will be my love for the people who are in my day to life that will draw them toward God. I adore the way Paul said it in Philippians 4:4 (MSG):
"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive."
Again, I don't know exactly how to say it, but it seems that by being good to people, living a good life, it's a better representation of God than by needing to always let people know that I'm right, that I don't sin, that I have the correct doctrine. That's not to say that doctrine and being set apart for God are not good and important. It is just to say that living a good life is more of a guiding principle.
What about you, do you think it's more important to be right or to be good? Why? Have you ever experienced one of these as having a more significant impact on the people in your life?
My Joy in the Desert
18 hours ago