Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - a reflection on righteousness

       Not only is this title one of the greatest westerns ever made (personally I think A Fist Full of Dollars is the greatest western of all time!) but the title itself tells us something very profound about human nature.  There is something of an epidemic at the moment, not just outside the church but more worryingly inside the church.  It is the problem of thinking that we are Good. 

            If you ask just about anybody they will say that they think they are all things considered a 'good person' and that people are by nature generally 'good people' even though things in their lives can go amiss.  Sometimes someone will say that they have done a few naughty things like telling white lies or on occasion getting jealous - but they then say 'everyone makes those kinds of mistakes so overall I'm still a pretty good person."   Here we see people claiming that because other people do those things then they are still 'good.' 

            Other people measure how 'good' they are not by everyone else doing the same things but because there is always somebody who is more 'bad' than they are.  A man who cheats on his wife might say that it doesn't make him a 'bad' person - people who murder people are the kind of people who are 'bad'.  But of course in prison if you speak the murderers they consider themselves 'better' than the rapists or the paedophiles - those are the 'bad' people, those are the truly despicable ones!    

            Whether we measure how 'good' we are by how 'good' other people are, or we  measure how 'good' we are by the fact that there are people who are far more 'bad' than us we still end up being 'ugly'.  This is because the Bible is perfectly clear, crystal clear: "as it is written, THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE" (Romans 3.10)   When we hide from that reality, the simple fact that we are all 'bad' people (if you don't believe it just turn on the news or think about how  embarrassed and ashamed you would be to have every thought you ever had played out before your sweet dear old grandma!) then we become ugly because we judge other people as better or worse than us when the reality is that no matter how 'good' we may feel we have no reason to boast as we are still 'bad'. 

            So the Bible tells us that actually all of us are 'bad' and our denial of this makes us 'ugly'.  This is why Jesus came - to give us GOOD NEWS.  How can we be 'good' or as the Bible would say 'righteous'?  The answer is not trying harder but Jesus.  "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Romans 3.22).  When we believe in Jesus - the only person who was ever 'good' because "only God is good" (Mark 10.18) - He takes up all of our 'bad' and our 'ugly' and nails it to the old rugged cross and then He gives us His righteousness, His 'good'.  Just remember though that as Christians our 'good' is not our own it is Christ's so we have absolutely no reason to boast in ourselves.

            Just remember: Jesus alone is Good, we are all Bad, don't let pride make you Ugly.

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