How Good is Good Enough?
Throughout history, religious leaders preached a familiar message. It went something like this: If you’re good, really good all the time, then just maybe you’ll be good enough to get into heaven. Of course, no one really knew where the cut-off point was.
Is 50% goodness good enough?
That seems a little too low … until, that is, we examine our own lives. If we’re honest with ourselves, many days 50% might be stretching it. Sometimes people concluded that they were just a little better than their wicked neighbor, and that was probably “good enough”. That neighbor probably thought the same about them. Isn’t it coincidental how people always seem to consider themselves just above the goodness line?
Religious teachers might have sometimes had noble intentions, but really they just made things worse. After all they were totally powerless to do anything, besides perhaps wagging their finger at people, telling them to “be good”, and generally making everyone feel even more miserable. (Perhaps you’ve known some religious people like that.)
Then Jesus came along
Jesus taught something very different from any other religious person up until that time, and different than anyone that has come along since. He pointed his finger, but not just at you and me: He then pointed to himself as the way to heaven. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” he said. Not just a teacher of the way, but he himself was the way, and the only way. Who did this guy think he was, anyways?
In fact Jesus is an utterly unique person, who made some pretty audacious claims. He claimed, for example, that he had the power to forgive other peoples’ sins. He also claimed that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. He even accepted worship from his followers. Remember, in the first century, accepting worship was a capital offense because only God could be worshiped: Jesus was claiming to be God! No other leader of a world religion has claimed that. By contrast, Muhammad (founder of Islam) repeatedly emphasized he was just a man, and worshiping him (the crime of “shirk”) is the most heinous Islamic crime possible.
Jesus claimed to be God
But Jesus didn’t just make the claim to be God: He backed it up. He proved this claim with a flawless life, amazing miracles, and stunning preaching. The crowds who gathered to see him cried out “Nothing like this has ever been seen!” and even the guards who were told to seize him exclaimed “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”
Jesus’ final confirmation of his unique identity is the most awe-inspiring of all. He willingly died on the cross, accepting the punishment we rightly deserve, so that by believing in him and committing our lives to becoming more like him, we could receive God’s gift of eternal life. Then, in demonstration of his power over even death, Jesus was resurrected. And because he lives, we have the chance to live.
Author Max Lucado sums up Jesus’ uniqueness in this way:
What do we do with such a person? We applaud men for doing good things. We enshrine God for doing great things. But when a man does God things? One thing is for certain, we can’t ignore him. Why would we want to?
There he was, the most significant person who ever lived. Forget MVP; he is the entire league. The head of the parade? Hardly. No one else shares the street. Who comes close? Humanity’s best and brightest fade like dime-store rubies next to him.
Dismiss him? We can’t. Resist him? Equally difficult. Don’t we need a God-man savior? … Near enough to touch. Strong enough to trust. A next door Savior.
While other religious teachers were powerless, Jesus is mighty. Where other religious teachers pointed at you and your sin, Jesus loved you, and pointed at himself as the one who provides for your sin. And while other religious leaders die, Jesus lives.
What will you do with Jesus?
Do you believe that he came to die in your place and that he rose again three days later, just as he said he would? If you do, you can start a personal relationship with him today, right now.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desires of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus will come into your life, and forgive you of your sins forever, just as he promised.