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August 7, 2017, 9:15 AM


I remember a class I taught a loooong time ago in my youth ministry days... I recall it because a) its essential to this illustration; and 2) it has stuck with me all these years.

I asked my class at the time: What is the hardest part about being Christian?  The response that stuck with me: Being good. None of the kiddos responded with discipleship issues. Not one threw baptism and the heavy commitment it is as an answer. No doctrinal issues came up (instruments vs. a cappella, etc...). "Being Good" was the one that got the class talking. 

I think the biggest struggle that was being expressed by this youth group member was this: the definition of good has been skewed. We've been taught that "being good" was the main goal of the Christian life. Now, no one may have specifically said it that way, but we've shaped ourselves into communities that try to do enough good that we tip the balance of heaven and hell in our favor. Church attendance becomes paramount (not that it isn't important, but it is not a criteria mentioned scripturally for salvation), we excel at Bible drills (finding books and verses faster than others), and we can list all the things we don't do because we're good Christians. Therefore, being good is what we assume God must want from every Christian... and we perpetuate that diluted religion. 

Does God want us to be good? Of course! But we need to know the exact kind of good we're dealing with if we say it that way. Mark 10 addresses this issue, with the Rich Young Ruler being a genuinely good person, obedient, and law abiding... but lacking an understanding of what true, godly goodness meant. Following the rules and having a strong list of "don'ts" is a good starting point for establishing character and obedience. It is, however, NOT what defines the heart of a Christian. Jesus addresses that with this young man in Mark, identifying the one area in which obedience had not translated into godly goodness - his wealth. 

This story should be rather alarming. Every one comes to Jesus with a handful of good things we've done or given up for his name's sake. We all come expecting a pat on the back for perfect attendance, consistent offering plate contributions, even teaching Sunday school... We must be ready though for him to turn to us, search us, and identify what has kept us from being truly good. Your challenge this week is to find that place(s) that would have you turning around discouraged because Jesus pointed it out as not being good enough. Discover it and change it. 

And be good! 


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