This photo of Pope Francis speaks about it not being necessary to believe in God to be a good person. I totally agree.
I can hear a resounding “What did you say??” echoing from those reading this post. Let me explain…
One can be a good person without believing in God. One can also be a bad person for that matter and believe in God. Believing in God is not necessarily the issue though. Being ‘good’ is relative with regards to what one is comparing ‘good’. Are we comparing ‘good’ with cannibalistic barbarians? Are we comparing ‘good’ to the genocidal atrocities performed by the Nazis during WWII? Are we comparing ‘good’ to those serial killers who mercilessly kill people by the scores? Or to a lesser degree are we comparing our ‘good’ to the guy down the street who doesn’t give to the poor? Or the bully in our kids’ grade school who seems to enjoy beating on our child? Or is our ‘good’ just a tad above our friends we associate with because maybe we not only gave to the poor but went one extra step in an act of kindness?
All these examples are varying degrees of behavior with a relative point of whatever ‘good’ is when comparing them. If it’s to Hitler and the serial killers, then good is relatively easy to attain and in comparison one could prop themselves up to a rather high degree. If it’s in comparison to our neighbor or the person we work with at the office, our ‘good’ might be a bit more difficult to obtain but I’m sure one could strain out the gnat rather easily.
If on the other hand, we are comparing our ‘good’ to God’s ‘good’…well then, we fall extremely short. In fact it would be as if we were to measure the distance of 1 cm and then place it in comparison to the distance equaling the circumference of the entire Earth…really no comparison at all! That is how far our goodness is from the goodness of God. The Bible says in the book of Isaiah that all our righteousness and good deeds are like filthy rags-soiled garments-before God. It also says that His ways are so much higher above our ways that it would be like comparing how far the heavens are above the Earth! Even our very best deeds are stained with our continued selfishness. The Bible says again over in the book of Romans that ‘no one is righteous, not even one person’-that there is ‘no one who does good or seeks after God’. No one. When it comes down to believing in God, well…the Bible says in James 2:19 that even the demons in hell believe there is a god but that sure doesn’t make them good by any stretch of the imagination.
Here is the thing, man will always attempt to justify his ways. People don’t want to admit they are sinful or a bad person. Don’t get me wrong, there are many people out there who do a lot of charitable things-sacrificial things even-but all of that is still only floating around in the shallow puddles of water amidst an ocean of God’s infinite goodness. We can never be good on our own-at least not with a goodness that will get us into Heaven! Even all of the wonderful works and deeds performed by the late Mother Theresa didn’t get her into Heaven. #gasp#…it wasn’t her deeds that got her there but rather her faith in a God who had provided a means of redemption enabling her to get there!
That means of redemption is Jesus Christ-the Son of God Himself. You see, when Adam and Eve took a bite from the fruit of the tree of knowledge (back in the Garden of Eden), they not only disobeyed God’s instruction but they also relinquished their God-given authority over this Earth. They handed it over to the very one who had deceived them-Satan. Ever since then man has been sinful in his nature-sinful even at birth. God knew this and provided a temporary stay of His righteous judgement in order for man to approach him throughout the ages (this is the story of the Old Testament). All of the laws given in the Old Testament were simply put into place to not only keep man somewhat in check but rather to show man how incredibly sinful and how far away from God’s holiness he really was. Without getting into too much theology here, let’s cut to the chase. God sent His only Son, Jesus as the perfect man, born of a virgin (so as not to be stained by the seed of man passed down from Adam), to die on a cross and bear the sin for the entire world. The Bible states in 1 John 2:2 that Jesus is the ‘atoning sacrifice for the entire world’. Death on the cross wasn’t the final story though…Jesus rose from the grave 3 days later and ascended back into Heaven! Jesus is the ONLY one who has ever been ‘good’ here on this Earth and He is in Heaven alongside the Father always pleading our innocence!
Our innocence? What? Yes, our innocence…for all those who would place their faith in Him. Just as the people in Acts 2 asked ‘what must we do?’ in order to appease the death of Christ, I will answer as the apostle Peter answered. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the forgiveness of your sins.” All we have to do is believe in Him. Believe in His perfection. Believe in His divinity. Believe that he came to be the ‘good’ that none of us could ever be on our own. In Jesus we have all the fullness of God and when we choose to repent and believe in Him, all that goodness translates over to us. We become ‘reborn’ in our spirits! We literally take on the nature of Jesus Christ and when God then sees us-He only sees true ‘goodness’! This is the hope and joy of the Gospel.
Unfortunately the Pope is incredibly mistaken in his statements. Along with the comment about ‘nature can be a church’…not sure I even want to touch that one (maybe another post for another day).
The issue though is not what the Pope has said-the Pope can’t save you. Only Jesus can. Will you lay aside your own supposed ‘goodness’ today, repent of your sinfulness and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? He is ready and willing to take you in and make you a part of the kingdom that will last forever, a place of true and eternal goodness.