There are moments as I wander through my social media stream when I come across a meme that leaves me speechless because it’s arguing with something that I can’t believe anybody really thinks.
Imagine you see a meme proclaiming: 2+2 is NOT 5!
That’s how I felt recently when I saw one saying that being a good person doesn’t depend on your religion.
I don’t actually know of any religion that says otherwise. I don’t personally know anyone who thinks that because of their religion, they’re good people. And my own religion teaches quite the opposite:
Christianity 101 includes the basic assumption that we are none of us good, and that’s why we need Jesus.
Going to church doesn’t make you a good person. Even believing in Jesus doesn’t make you a good person. What believing in Jesus does is this: it changes you from a not-good-person who is on the way to hell, to a not-good-person who has repented and received God’s forgiveness and is therefore not going to face the punishment he/she deserves.
It doesn’t make you good.
Yes, there is a process that starts when you put your faith in Jesus, an ongoing process of God gradually working on your attitudes and your behaviour and gradually changing you from the inside, so you do become gradually better – compared to the me of before I came to faith, I am much less selfish and obnoxious than I was. But I’m not better than all the people who don’t share my faith – some of you are already a lot nicer and kinder than the old me was! You can be good and kind and unselfish without sharing my faith. What you can’t be without Jesus is: saved.
Jesus didn’t die on that cross to make us good. He died to take on our punishment because we’re not good.