Being Good is Not Good Enough

mountain, snowcap, grass, view, good, bible, scripture

One of my favorite Bible verses is in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus says, “I tell you the Truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” What an amazing thing.

Every time I read that verse I think I get a little closer to actually understanding it. I think that it really puts into perspective the power of faith and prayer. It goes on to say, “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24) What power God gives us! But with one key requirement – we must “believe” it and not “doubt in [our] hearts.”

Imagine the kind of faith it would take to move a mountain. Jesus gives us the power to do it with only our faith in Him. Unfortunately, most of us have enough trouble moving our own rear ends to go to Mass on Sunday, much less a mountain. Every time I read this verse I am reminded of how far I have to go on my journey with Christ and that even when I think I am being a “good” Christian, I have not yet achieved what Christ is asking of me.

Being a Christian is not about just being a good person. Being a Christian is about always trying to be a better person. As a Christian, one that is fully human and still living on this Earth, we never get to the stage where we are “good enough.” No matter what level we find ourselves at in terms of our relationship with God, He is always calling us to the next level. Being a Christian is about following Jesus, but you can’t be following anything if you are sitting still.

Being a comparatively “good” person in today’s world can be difficult for some at times, but it isn’t necessarily something to brag about. If you find yourself saying things like, “What? I don’t sleep around. I don’t do drugs. I don’t kill or hurt people. I don’t break the law. What does God have to complain about?” then you are missing the point. You are supposed to not do those things. What do you want? A cookie?…for not killing somebody and getting your girlfriend pregnant? God is holding us to a much higher standard and calling us to much greater things than simply not “screwing up.”

So what about if you are already doing more than the bare minimum? What if you are active in your church, volunteer every week at the hospital, pray the rosary every night, never miss Mass, and donated your extra kidney? Well, then it’s time to sit back, thank God we’re not like those “lost” people out there, set the knob on cruise control – destination Heaven, and wait for the pat on the back from Jesus, right? Wrong.

First, let us be reminded by scripture what happens to those that exalt themselves because they think they are already good enough. Luke 18: 10-14 says, “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

When God looks down upon us wallowing in our sin and human imperfection, he not only smiles when we overcome them for Him, but he sees with perfection exactly what is keeping us from knowing Him more. Do you think that if we worked our entire life at it that our little minds could possibly wrap themselves completely around the concept of God and our eternal salvation? I don’t think so. There is always more growing to do. Unless you are walking on water and tossing mountains to and fro, then your faith has room for growth.

Jesus doesn’t look at us just to see how far we’ve come. He also sees how far we still have to go (and wants to help us get there). So even though some may feel like they’re doing a pretty decent job in life at being a good person and loving God, especially when compared to many others in our amoral society, we can’t be satisfied with that. God isn’t satisfied with that. And not because he’s a hard-a**. But because the distance you still have to go is precisely the same distance between you and perfect communion with a loving God who is willing to do all the work if you’ll but let him.

Is Jesus more pleased with a drug addicted prostitute that finally turns to Him and says, “Help me! I need you! Have mercy on me, a sinner.” Or with a “good” Christian that has done the right thing all of their life only to forget who blessed them with what they have in the first place? The question is not which person is good? The question is which person realizes that they still need better and is reaching for just that?

He doesn’t care as much about where you’ve been or where you are. He cares more about which way you’re reaching. So reach for Him. Reach for His Church. And once you’ve made it to Peter’s boat – the Church – and you’re fishing in the sun, remember that the journey has only just begun. Tomorrow Jesus will ask you to step out onto the water.

Previous post:

Next post: