Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Being a Good Person

When I was involved in full-time youth ministry one of the most difficult discussions was the "good person debate".  I often heard, "No, I don't go to Church, but I'm a good person." or "He doesn't believe in Christ, but he's a good person."

Will being a good person get you into heaven? Let's see what Jesus has to say on that in today's Gospel reading from Matthew (13:36-43).

To get the full answer, which is a "no" from the big J.C, you need to go back a few verses to Matthew 13:18-30.  Today's Gospel, which is often referred to as the Explanation of the Parable of the Weeds, also explains the Parable of the Sower.  The only people who make it to heaven are those who act like good seed: "But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." (verse 23).  But, there's a bigger challenge than understanding the Word as the Parable of the Weeds explains.  I have to be able to still produce fruit without being chocked off by weeds (a.k.a. sin).  

Peter Kreeft puts it this way, "...we have reduced all the virtues to one, being kind; and we measure Jesus by our standards instead of measuring our standards by him" (Back to Virtue, p. 32).  For as much as society clamors about being a good or kind or nice person, in the long run, it won't get me far.  The young people I talked to thought it was enough be to a good person and they usually weren't happy when I suggested otherwise.  I emphasized that a life rooted deeply in Christ sustains me though crises and struggles and temptations.  Being a good person is a good thing, but will be really keep me together when life gets hard?

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