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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is the message of Jesus to "be good"?

             Did you know that not once does the Bible say, “Be good.”  My friend Steve says to me that he can sum up pretty much any Sunday with this – “Be good, do good.”  Now, the Bible does say we are to “do good.”  But it doesn’t say anything about “be good.”  There is a reason for that.  In our language, “be good” has the following meaning:  be nice, be safe, be polite, be considerate.  “Being good” has a sense about it of some benign, non-threatening, bland idea of niceness.  Steve is probably more right than I want to admit.  Too often the message we can walk away with is that we just need to “be more good.”
            Here are some facts to think about:
·      The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male.
·      Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.
·      This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
o   Stats taken from
What these statistics seem to indicate is the typical message of “be good” is coming through loud and clear to men and they aren’t impressed.  So, by and large, they are staying away and walking away.  That is a travesty.
Is “be good” really the message of Jesus?  Is “niceness” the ultimate Christian virtue that we are to attain to?  I think not.
One of my favorite books is by John Eldridge - “Wild at Heart.”  I think every man should read it.    His message is pretty simple and it is this – every man needs three things – an adventure to live, a battle to fight and a beauty to rescue.  I like that and I actually think it is a pretty good summary of the story of Jesus.  You can’t read the story of Jesus without recognizing the drama of adventure.  The story of Jesus is full of battle – John’s telling of the birth of Jesus in Revelation is the in form of a cosmic battle against Satan.  And, the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus fought for and continues to fight for his Bride – the church  (that would be you and me!).  Adventure, battle, rescue.  All the elements of a great story.
The last thing I want men to come away with on a Sunday at Cold Springs Church is to “be more good.”  I long for all but especially the men of CSCC to see their lives as a story that is fully discovered in God’s story.  I want men inspired to go for the adventure, to rush into the battle and be the hero through the power God.  I want men to see that the goal of life is not to be a good husband/father/man but rather to be a mighty man of God that is a holy husband/father/man.  “Goodness” is safe, holiness is dangerous.  We need more dangerous men that take seriously the call of God that transforms their world with the love of God.  Being good will keep you out of trouble but that isn’t what Jesus’ life was about.  Jesus’ life was about a deep connection to God that directed and empowered everything he was and did.  And Jesus was dangerous.
Men, it’s time to step up and move beyond good and pursue being holy.  I need you, the church needs you, the world needs you.  Step up!

I’ve got your back.

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)

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