If you consider yourself a good person you have no need to read this, or anything else constructive or challenging really. Go back to your day doing the right things, saying the right words, or at least trying to everyday. As we say in our generation and hopefully someone at your Thanksgiving table said: “it’s all gravy, baby.”
A question for you before you leave though: Who told you, or by what standard, do you consider yourself “good?”
It’s about to get deep.
There’s No Such Thing As a Good Person
In my generation–Millenial–this term is thrown around a lot to describe people. Some will claim its semantics to nitpick at words, but say something enough times and you’ll start to believe its true, whether consciously or subconsciously. To claim yourself as a good person means you admit to comparing yourself to other people and believe that you are better than them. Is that really the definition of a good person, someone who see’s themselves as above others?
Do yourself a favor and repeat this sentence: “I am -not- a good person.”
“That’s stupid, why would I do that?”
Because you’ll release yourself from an expectation that was never yours to carry as well as from the consequences of not meeting that expectation; the expectation to be perfect.
“But I don’t steal. I don’t kill. I don’t go out of my way to cause other people pain or trouble. I just do me and try to better myself. I know I’m not perfect.”
First of all, who said any of that stuff is bad? If you were poor, hungry and couldn’t buy food so you stole it, are you a bad person? If someone comes to attack a loved one or stranger near you and you kill the attacker, are you a bad person? If you build a business that puts someone else out of work and into possible financial distress, does that make you a bad person? You doing you and trying to better yourself usually means staying out of other people’s business even when those people need someone to intervene in their lives; that is the very definition of selfish. So by what book, morals, or feelings do you claim any of that stuff as good or bad? And how do you know you’re not perfect, which implies the fact that you actually believe there is such a thing to aspire to?
Secondly, the absence of those things in your life does not automatically make you a good person. In fact, if you don’t actively push back against people who do all those things, one could say that makes you a bad person. Because tolerance or inaction against evil is the other side of the coin of evil itself.
“But what about them?! All those bad peo–”
Stop. We’re not talking about them, we’re talking about you. You said you’re a good person, so without comparing yourself to anyone else, define what makes you good?
See, you can’t. You are not a good person. I’m not a good person either. Nobody is. There is no amount of good deeds or words that will ever make someone a good person.
A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
It’s Not About Good or Bad, It’s About Redemption
Why is rain considered bad and sunshine considered good? Rain is good for farmers in a dry season but bad for planned outside activities. Sunshine is good for people to wake up and do life but bad for those who toil hard outside.
Why are snakes or sharks considered bad while sheeps or tuna considered good? Snakes and sharks do their part to keep the ecosystem in check of pests and overpopulation, and sheeps and tuna are only good because we can control them and use them to fill our needs (again, selfish).
Why is feeding the poor called good and being wealthy called bad? Give someone a fish and you’ll only feed them for a day, but teach someone to fish and you’ll feed them for life. If you have wealth it means you have resources and hopefully the skills to administer those resources accordingly so you can invest into other people’s lives and well-being.
More importantly, why is it that people have this impulse of categorizing things or people as good or bad, like a judge? It’s because we take after our Father, Judge of both the living and the dead.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” We’re no different. Our Dad draws lines between what we refer to as good and bad, and we innately do the same, but where we go wrong is the reasons for us doing so. We draw lines as a way to cope with the circumstances of life and try to distance ourselves from evil. The Lord draws lines to define what His Kingdom looks like and what the absence of it looks like, irrespective of circumstances and intent.
Whether you are poor or rich, His Kingdom demands generosity. Whether you live in peace or in danger, His Kingdom demands faith. Whether evil intent is present or not, the Kingdom demands love. Replace the word “demand” with “provides” and an even deeper meaning exists. The only way to live in the Kingdom permanently is to be redeemed into it by child-like faith; you cannot earn, force, reason or sneak your way in (it is written, you’ll be kicked out if you do).
The King does not judge based on good and bad, he judges based on “are you redeemed into my Kingdom?” The proof of that redemption shows in words and deeds. It is those words and deeds that man has tried to claim as “good” and separate the opposite into “bad”, but even this is an unredeemed and man-made way of making sense of what is heavenly and pure. It’s like telling someone that they need to be born again and they dismiss how they’re supposed to be born after being old. If they don’t believe what happens here on earth, how will they ever believe heavenly things?
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Yes, killing is bad. Yes, stealing is bad. Yes, giving is good. Yes, loving is good. That’s obvious. But the point is this: why and how is that obvious?
The answer, is because a Kingdom that existed way before we and our ancestors were ever born exemplified perfection. That Kingdom and its Perfection still exist today, here in our midst available to us, and without our conscious approval we compare people and everything to it. So why not stop denying it by being content with “this is good and this is bad”, but instead lets see everyone and everything through the eyes of the Lord.
When the King reveals His Kingdom to you, you will never see life the same primitive way again.
[If you’re curious where the Kingdom came from or what it is, click here]