Yesterday i met a searcher; someone who is searching, seeking to understand God. She asked an interesting question, “i find it hard to understand why is it that every good thing we do needs to be attributed to God. Isn’t that putting down humanity? i mean, there is good in us, you know. WE can do good.”
How i wished i could answer her… but we were at a Bible study (studying 2 Corinthians) and running short of time. Our discussion leader promised to pick this up again at another time.
The truth is i used to think like her. i used to think that everyone started with good intentions, yes even the murders and horrible criminals. i believed they all were good or at least wanted to be good or strived to be good for the sake of their loved ones, that it was just their bad luck that the path they chose led them to terrible things.
That was before i found out that people could be cruel just because they wanted to be. That was before i accepted the fact that Man has fallen short of the Glory of God. That Man really is so flawed and selfish and self-seeking. That was before i saw how much Man needed God in him.
Our modern society often tells us that we need to constantly look at ourselves; how we can better ourselves, how we should be finding ways to improve ourselves; and we need, should and can do these things on our own. This thought pattern has filtered into our Christian lives too. We are constantly looking at how to be a good Christian, what to do to become a better Christian, which behaviour we need to change to get into God’s good books.
i wrote a post a few weeks ago about the dangers of trying to please God and my opening line was “Being a Christian is not an issue of doing…”. This is further expanded here to include our obsession with how well or how bad we are doing in our Christian walk, our fixation on the good things and the bad things we are doing, our need to talk about how much or how little we have grown in Christian knowledge.
Once again, our focus is in the wrong place. The Bible is not about us and our lives. The Bible is about God and how He purposed and sent His Only Son to die for us upon the Cross. My favourite line from the article (see link below):
…the more I focus on my need to get better the worse I actually get-I become neurotic and self-absorbed…
i have noticed how when i try on my own strength to do better, such as trying to control my explosive expressions of anger and frustration. The more i try to hold it in or keep it under wraps, the more it boils over. Then i become more frustrated with myself and it becomes a vicious circle. But when i submit my problem to God in prayer, the control is there… not my control but God’s.
How does that happen? Well, we need to see that
…the focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer. The gospel frees us from ourselves. It announces that this whole thing is about Jesus and dependent on Jesus. The good news is the announcement of his victory for us, not our “victorious Christian life.”…
Once we get that point, relying on Jesus for everything in our lives is much easier and is what will get us to live the Christian lives God wants us to live. When and where we are weak, God will be strong for us because where we should have died for our sins, Jesus came and died and was victorious for us.
The author of the article expresses it so much better than me. Have a read.
The Gift Of Self-Forgetfulness – Tullian Tchividjian.
So in answer to the searcher, “We, humans, are messed up. Even when we try to do good, especially on our own strength, we focus on the wrong things, we mess up, we get too fixated and we, inadvertently, will ask ourselves, “What’s in it for me?”. The self in us is… well… selfish! There is no way around that one. We are selfish creatures who would always look out for ourselves first and not our fellow humans. Yes, maybe you know a few people whom you feel are saints but do you truly know their hearts? Do you know for sure why they do what they do? Only God knows their hearts. And God looks FIRST at our hearts, our actions come down the line. Our hearts are just not where it should be … yet… and we need God to help us. We are not yet self-less as Jesus is, we do not put the needs of others before our own in every single situation as Jesus does. If we want to be good, do good, then let’s aim for 100% living for others and not do a half-hearted job of it. We attribute good to God, because the good stuff comes from Him, our Creator; and He is the only one who can help us to get to 100%.”
Dependance on God is not denying that humans can do good. Dependance on God and praise to God for every good thing is acknowledging that we are in need of help; we can not, on our own, put our self aside. It says, “i recognise God as the only one who can get us to where we should be.”.