Find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:10 NIV
One of my dad’s ancestors was Hywel Dda (“the Good”), a tenth-century Welsh king who lived in the era of Charlemagne and Alfred the Great. Hywel’s “good” appellation did not come from his holiness, although he was a Christian, because statesmen of the era had to be ruthless; rather, he compiled and combined the Celtic brehon law with Christian laws and customs. Hywel’s laws, which stood for 600 years, were noted for their fairness, and especially for the emphasis placed on restoration over punishment.
Growing up in a Christian home and enrolled in Christian school from first grade through university, I had many advantages. I became a church pianist and organist at age 10. I knew my Bible proof texts and obeyed my parents, pastors, and teachers.
One might conclude that I was “good” because I didn’t do “bad” things. The danger was that I might be convinced that whatever decision I made must be good because I’m good. Not so! The very thought that I’m “good” is corrupt! If we refrain from immoral, unethical, unlawful things, and we support the downtrodden or work for the church, we must by default be good people, right?
I received a forwarded email from a friend in my music group at church. It fits this article well!
One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. So he called one of His angels and sent the angel to Earth for a time. When he returned, he told God, 'Yes, it is bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not.'
God thought for a moment and said, 'Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion.'
So God called another angel and sent him to Earth for a time. When the angel returned he went to God and said, 'Yes, it's true. The Earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving, but 5% are being good.'
God was not pleased. So He decided to email the 5% that were good, because he wanted to encourage them, and give them a little something to help them keep going.
Do you know what the email said?
Okay, I was just wondering. I didn't get one, either.
The Bible says that no one is good or without sin (Romans 3:10). We can only claim the goodness and righteousness of Jesus shining through us. Without Christ’s nature, we are the people who say, “Lord, we did these things in Your name,” but Jesus answers, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:21-23 NIV
How do we enter an intimate relationship with God? First, let’s get rid of our pride in being “good” -- or even in being well-behaved. As a member of a church fellowship or particular denomination, you have no "advantage." You're a fourth-generation member of a church? You're a professional pastor or leader? John the Baptist was not impressed that the Jews of pure descent from Abraham claimed salvation through their heritage, and said that they had to repent (turn away) from sinfulness (a state of rebellion) and be immersed in the belief that God cleanses from all unrighteousness. God is powerful enough to both forgive and forget your sins. (That is deep!) How can you become intimate with God? Lay your heart bare to Him and ask Him to dwell in you. Jesus came to save the individual, not the group.
Earnestly ask God to show where He wants you to fit into His will. Ask Him to forgive: to empty you of sin and its penalties, and fill you with His righteousness, to declare you acceptable because of His sacrifice. The same God who looked at the newly-created world and declared it "good" will look at the re-created heart in you, and declare it "good."
And in that humble, healed attitude, we take baby steps and then lengthen our stride as we run after His leading. Every experience, positive and negative, can build our faith and trust if Jesus is always in view!
Like Hywel Dda's compilation of laws, God's laws, written not on tablets of stone but on the conscience of the believer, are about restoration and the abundant life, not about punishment.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV