Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Law is Good... Really...

A nice post from Mike Baker got me thinking. He was delighting that in his conversations about the Gospel with a friend, the friend said, "What? Wait... that's it? .......well then what is the point of trying to be good if everything has been done for me already by Jesus?"

That is a good thing to delight in - we are saved by Christ Jesus, not by our own works. This is the Gospel, which today is so often not preached or proclaimed in its full sweetness.

However, this has gotten me thinking. What *is* the point of trying to be good if everything has been done for me already by Jesus?

A lot of people - I don't think they could answer this. I don't think they'd be mentally prepared. It might be turned into a "but you have to show Jesus how much you love Him" -- which, again, is Law. I have to? Well, then things are no longer about what Christ has done for me. Or maybe "You have to let your light shine before men" - which is a law statement again. I have to?

We, in America at least, are so conditioned to think of good works in terms of obligation, in terms of proving ourselves to God (really, is trying to show Jesus how much I love Him that different from the most harsh and blunt self-righteousness), in terms of just having to have the focus be on my own works that most people can't give the simple answer.

Why try to do good? Because... they are good. Good for your neighbor. Good for you.

Seriously - I think we have forgotten that the Law *is* GOOD. Not that it's a list of hardships that we endure to prove how awesome or good we are. It's not the standard we hold to in order to prove how much better we are than "them". It's not a way in which I can abandon my own fun in order prove myself to God. It's not my way to make sure people act in a way which troubles me the least.

The Law is Good. It's good for you.

When God tells me not to kill, not to hate - this is good. It's not only good for my neighbor who is not killed, who doesn't suffer under my wrath - but more profoundly -- it's good for *me*. Violence and hatred does *me* harm. Adultery harms *me*. Stealing and covetousness harms me. Blowing off God's Service hurts me.

When I strive after doing that which is good, it's not to prove anything to God. It's not because I have to (for often I have not, and God has been merciful to me!). It's not to prove that I am better than you (for I see much more of my own sin than I see yours). It's because it's good for me. That it is beneficial for me. It is the path of least resistance, it protects me from pain and suffering, it protects me from the bait and switch that the world tries to foist upon me.

The Law is Good - really. It is. But the thing is - if we try to justify ourselves, we will resent and despise the Law so much that we forget this.

1 comment:

Mike Baker said...

See? Profound conversations out of that question!

I think that this also demonstrates just how utilitarian our culture's ethics are in this postmodern age. Virtue is no longer its own reward and you don't just do something because it's the right thing.

Look at all of the appeals for charity and volunteering that sum up the reason for doing it as "...because it feels good to help" or "...pay it forward."

Because, when you don't get something out of it, well then what's the point?!?

...and that is when the veneer of our righteousness is stripped away and the true depths of our depravity and self-centeredness are revealed. We don't really want to do good things. We just want to get credit for being good.

But when you are no longer doing good works to earn cosmic extra credit, then truly good works can be done! After all, if you do something for someone just because of what you get out of it... is it really good or just self serving?

In a world where good works are of no avail before God, then you do them from truly selfless motives and are closer to the mind of Christ who does good because it is good and not just because we're s'posed to.