We love to be good people. We love to feel like our opinions and actions are the most righteous and nowhere is this more obvious than online. People flock to comment sections to prove their good moral standing and show support for those they deem to be the most upright.
Sometimes it can feel like there are such high standards for us to live up to. What am I allowed to say or do, who am I allowed associate myself with in order to perform in a perfectly ‘good’ way? Of course, those standards change depend on who you speak to, but there is a sense of absoluteness wherever you go. “Agree with me, or you are wrong.” “Do this good thing, or you are a bad person.”
Trying to prove your morality can be exhausting, but it’s easy to feel like we have to. This mindset puts aside a hugely important truth about humanity: we are in desperate need of a Saviour.
None of us are good people. Not only do we know this from the Bible, but we know it from our own hearts. We can all see times when we have been jealous and prideful, spoken badly about others or used them for our own gain, and those examples only scratch the surface of what we are capable of.
As we’ve been going through the Sermon on the Mount together as a church, I have felt my sin be exposed. Jesus gives us a picture of the most beautiful Kingdom as he preaches, and when I think about my life, there are so many ways that I don’t live up to his design for that Kingdom.
In Jesus’s time, the Pharisees added more and more rules of ‘morality’ to follow. This only pushed them to more self righteousness and judgement of those who didn’t live as purely as they believed themselves to be living. Jesus says this is wrong! No number of extra rules and regulations will make us good people. For us today, this tells us that we don’t have to fear the demands of the world that give us specific ‘right’ ways to behave. The only one who can tell us what is right is Jesus.
But what do we do when we know this, but still feel the pain of falling short of what Jesus commands? We can feel the weight of Jesus’s words, but forget who it is that is speaking them.
At the start of the gospel, Matthew uses the word Immanuel to describe Jesus — God with us. Jesus came into this world to be with us, the people who are always failing to live up to what he wants for us. He came to tell us about the beautiful Kingdom of Heaven, and to go to the cross so that we could be a part of it.
A few chapters after Jesus’s sermon, he tells the Pharisees that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He invites us into his Kingdom, shows us how to live in that Kingdom, and gives us forgiveness when we mess up.
When you are tempted to feel down about the ways you’re struggling to follow Jesus’s commands, come to him in repentance, knowing that he will forgive. If we don’t think sin is a big deal, we lose sight of how immense Jesus’s sacrifice for us is. The more we know about our sin, the more we can appreciate and love the God who forgives it.
So, no, none of us are good people, and neither trying hard to be good or feeling down about the fact that we’re not can do anything about it. But we can have total freedom in knowing that Jesus is good, and out of his goodness he offers us forgiveness when we follow him