Yesterday’s sermon ….
- Was related though different at our Moss and Zoar Campuses, as Chris Thayer preached live at Moss and I preached live at Zoar. We used different scriptures and different pathways to get to the same bottom line (see below);
- In my version, jumped from Mark 10:18 to James 2:10 before settling in at Romans 5:15-19
- Compared our “goodness” to ice cream sprinkled with dog droppings and ice tea with a dash of sewage. Really.
- Landed at this bottom line: Why trust your goodness, which is flawed, when you can trust Jesus’, which is perfect?
So we’ve been talking about Gods At War at GS and over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at God’s jealousy, we’ve look at the gods of pleasure and even at the god of romance. But today, I think, is the most dangerous and insidious and harmless-sounding god of them all, which is the Good god. (Note what is capitalized and what is not.) This is not the God is great, God is good. Nope, that’s the real God. It’s instead the god we make out of being good. The god we make out of doing good. The god we make out of trusting our own sense of goodness for making life here and for gaining life in the hereafter. It’s the Good … god.
Think about it, moms and dads. This subject governs so much of your conversation with your kids … you want them to “be good.” Gosh, it’s the motivation behind a lot of Santa Claus talk … you KNOW you want your young uns to be on the “nice” side and not the “naughty”! It’s why a lot of parents bring their kids to church or to scouts or to both: Just teach em to be good, please! It’s even why when people get older it’s a great honor to be known as a “Good Egg”! It’s even why at my son’s rehearsal dinner awhile back, I lost it – LOST. IT.! – when one of his groomsmen toasted with “he’s a good man.” What more could you want? Yep, it’s good, we applaud, and we TRUST good. And sometimes we love our goodness so much it even becomes a god.
Because here’s the thing. It’s so harmless, so pleasant, so GOOD SOUNDING that many of us, consciously or not, trust that our goodness will earn God’s forgiveness, both in the here and now and the there and then. It’s sort of the mindset of good people go to heaven. Like, for a lot of you, if you were asked last night Where will you go after you die and why?, a lot of your answers would have included things like “Well, I always …” or “Because I never …´or even “I’m not perfect but I am better than most.” Now: some of you may not even believe there is an afterlife and if that’s you, I’m glad you’re here & hope today both helps & challenges you.
But it’s almost as if EVERYBODY knows that good people go to heaven and that’s even why God set up heaven & hell – to encourage the kind of goodness that makes this world a better place and then ensure you GO TO the even better place after you die. It’s interesting: a few years ago there was a poll on the afterlife and the kind of people respondents expected to go to heaven. Some of the results: (AV) Mother Teresa 79% (what about the other 21??!!), Oprah 66%, Michael Jordan 65% (before ownership of the Hornets), and Colin Powell 61%. But do you know who topped the list? The person taking the survey! IOW most of us believe that good people go to heaven and most us count ourselves as good people? Whose bad? Anyone worse than me. Yeah, I think we believe that most people end up in heaven because most people are good, and most people are certainly better than most people.
Now; the little logical quibbles? Who decides what’s good? Or HOW good do you have to be? Top half? Or at least a C (70)? Even a B? (80?) How good is good enough? And even though we don’t quite know the answer to that or other questions, we still cling to the believe that good people go and I’m not perfect but pretty good and I’m going to trust that my goodness will gain me his heaven. It just makes sense; it simply seems fair.
And then Jesus. Then Jesus, in an apparently INCIDENTAL line that turns out to be MONUMENTAL says this in response to a young man’s question about inheriting eternal life in Mark 10:18: