Is “good” always good?
I’ll bet you received a lot of “year-end” messages from different organizations seeking a final funding push. One that caught my attention was an appeal to join in combating their perception of a growing movement called “good without God.”
I was invited to sign an online declaration—and of course to send some money. I did neither, but I did find myself wondering whether I object to the notion of “good without God.” What do you think?
I recalled a conversation with a close friend (I’ll call him Ben) as he explained why he never took his kids to church.
A good family
Ben and his wife both grew up in strict Christian homes, but after they got married they just never found a church that “seemed to fit.” So they dedicated Sunday mornings to family activities and service projects. They taught their kids to do the right thing, to serve others and their community, to be kind, caring, and respectful.
Then he asked an interesting question: What’s wrong with that?
I think Ben expected me to challenge his decision. I think he anticipated that I’d dispute his assertion that he and his kids could be good people without God. I didn’t.
What’s wrong with teaching your kids the value of kindness and service or dedicating time each week to family activities? Nothing’s wrong with those things—by any standard, they’re good.
My friend and his wife are great folks. I love spending time with them, learning from their experience and perspective. I’ve met lots of church folks who could learn from this wonderful family’s example.
Missing the point
The longer I follow Jesus the more I understand that I can’t “be good.” Occasionally I manage to do something good, as do many other Christians. But non-Christian individuals and organizations also do tremendous good.
Following Jesus isn’t about being good. It’s about a personal relationship. It’s about spending eternity in the presence of God.
Being good, doing good—they’re important. But they’re not the point.
I believe God is the source of good. I believe He uses all circumstances for good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28.
I believe He uses everyone to accomplish His purposes—even those who aren’t aware of His presence. God sent the characters of Relentless Grace to transform my broken life. A few of those characters would deny God’s hand in their actions, but that doesn’t matter. He sent them anyway.
The Christian label isn’t a guarantee of good, just as non-Christian isn’t automatically not-good. Good things are good things, and they all come from God.
Do I believe in “good without God”? No.
But I’m certainly not going to pick a fight with anyone who’s doing good—for any reason. I’ll celebrate and support kindness, generosity, and service wherever they occur.
If they ask, I will tell them that doing good isn’t the point.
Jesus is the point.
What’s your take on this idea of “good without God”?