A lot of folks out there continue to think I am a backslidden heathen due to my avoidance of "churches" and general disdain for most aspects of Americanized Christianity. They are probably right. I am rarely good and often times quite unpleasant. In fact, I would have to say that in many instances, one would find it most difficult to find any credible evidence of "goodness" in my life.
The "good" news is that I realize it and it doesn't really bother me. Why? Well it could be that I just don't care (I don't…much). Still, it's most likely due to the fact that I'm fairly sure He's not really trying to shape me into anything remotely "good", nor is He looking for "a few good men".
If you ask most folks what it means to be a successful "Christian", they will likely begin to list the "good" stuff we should be doing and the bad to be avoided. If you're wondering what such a list might look like, I have taken some time to compose a fine example for you.
- Go to church every time the doors are open
- Smile and act like your life is perfect (especially around other Christians and at church)
- Give lots of money (even if you can't pay your bills)
- Volunteer for everything (overcommit when at all possible)
- Don't ever lose your temper (especially with clergy…God will get you for that!)
- Be nice to everyone all the time (especially when you're at Wal-Mart)
- Do not cuss (even if you stub your toe)
- Do not drink (everyone knows Jesus turned the water into grape juice…not wine!)
- Submit to your spiritual authorities (even when you know they're wrong or just ignorant)
- Read your bible and pray every day (do it in the morning for true legend status)
So how'd you score? 8 out of 10? Maybe 9? "Impressive! Most Impressive" (a little Darth Vader quote for all the Star Wars fans)
Now let me give you some "good" and bad news. Let's start with the bad news. The bad news is even if you are able to check off each and every item on my little list, you are not "good".
And just what is the good news you ask?
God does not care! In fact, He is most likely waiting on you to "not care" also.
"HERESY! You speak heresy Ken Richmond!"
I can hear it now…
"But Ken, don't you know that reading the bible and praying are important activities?"
"Don't you believe that we should give?"
"Don't you realize that God doesn't want His kids drinking wine?"
……...don't ask me that one. You might not like my answer.
"Then you Ken Richmond are not good! Not good at all!"
Yep! You're right, but I've already admitted that so it's no great revelation.
The truth is God is not concerned with our "goodness" or lack thereof. Only He is "good". That means your wholehearted attempts at being "good" end up as nothing more than a load of wood, hay, and stubble (what is stubble?) What He is concerned with is holiness and relationship. The problem is many people really believe refraining from the bad and doing the "good" makes one holy. It does not (I could quote scripture, but you can look it up …I'm lazy).
What does make us holy? God plus NOTHING!
When you and I became believers, did we do anything to make that happen? I can tell you I did not. I changed nothing about myself. I came to God "as is" with nothing to offer Him. I was not "good" and was quite aware of it. You know what happened? He saved me, loved on me, and He began shaping me into what He desired me to be. I DID NOTHING! And guess what sports fans, I'm still doing nothing!
Now if He was willing to accept me when I was at my worst, how much more accepted am I today now that I have been adopted and made His child? Am I now "good" or concerned about my "goodness"? Nope, not even close! Why? Because I am holy, and holiness is all that matters to God.
Now some might consider my proclamation of holiness to be somewhat prideful. On the contrary, it is the most humbling thing one could ever experience. A holy God takes a worthless, dirty soul, applies the blood of His own son to that soul, and creates a new creature that is capable of being called the temple of His Spirit. I'd call that mighty humbling. Does personal "goodness" even remotely matter in the presence of such awesome grace and love? I don't think so. If my "goodness" could be seen as having any significance or merit, Christ died for nothing. Your "goodness" meant nothing when God first rescued you and it means even less today. Back then, that lie was all we had; now we have Christ. Only His "goodness" means anything, and that "goodness" resides in you in the form of holiness.
So, what must we do? What's "our part" in this? I'm thinking not much. The best thing you can do for God is embrace what He has done and is currently doing in your life. Will that make you "good", probably not, but you might just begin to experience a level of freedom and joy that makes "goodness" seem not so "good".
I decided to entitle this post, "God Does Not Need A Few Good Men". By now, I hope you realize such an animal does not exist.
With that, I would like to offer what I consider to be sound advice:
Quit obsessing about your "goodness". You are not "good", nor will you ever be!
Instead, why not just enjoy God, take life a day at a time, and if you take a notion, have a swig or two of your favorite "grape juice". Might I recommend the "Southern Blush"?
It is delicious!