On Saturday 27 Nov 2010, The Straits Times ran a feature on how different religions are targetting youths so that they stay out of trouble. More specifically, that they will not get into bad company, especially youth gangs that have made the news recently, bullying, slashing others and even killing them. Senior Correspondent Lee Siew Hua posted an excerpt in her blog “From gangs to religion“. In response to this, the President of the Humanist Association wrote to the Forum with this statement, “You don’t need faith to be good.” What he is saying, really, is that there are many who do not believe in any god nor profess any religion and they are still morally responsible or “good”.
This may surprise some, but I agree with him 🙂 You don’t need faith to be good. Before you brand or label me a post-modern heretic, or that I have bought into the global cry for tolerance, please allow me to explain.
Inherent in any man and woman is goodness. Why do I say this and how do I know this? Well, the Bible tells us that we have all been made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). And since God is good, all of humanity carry His goodness within us. Is it not true that even the most wicked and most evil know how to be good to those they choose to be good to? That said, the Bible also reveals that when our first parents sinned against God, they were separated from Him. Even so, God never removed the good that was created within them. But separation from God began to affect the image of God in Man. And along the way, the idea or understanding of good was also affected and distorted. The good of God was still in Man, only that Man defined “good” from his own selfish perspective rather than from God’s perspective. With the advent and rise of humanism and secularism, God was slowly but surely edged out of the entire “good” equation. Man saw themselves as capable and self-sufficient. They attributed their wisdom and abilities to themselves, and that thought readily extends to one’s morality and goodness.
Let’s explore another point. It is widely accepted and expected that all religions teach morals and goodness. That’s really helpful, especially in multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore. What we have available are diverse resources and multiple agents to produce morally upright citizens for the nation. And our humanist friends have just joined the bandwagon of service providers. They claim they are not a faith or religion but they are sadly mistaken. Faith or religion is a set of beliefs and system that one holds to, usually centred around a god or supernatural being. For the humanist, he holds to a system of beliefs and ideals, and the god he worships is himself. Humanism is a religion. My apologies, for I digress. In the eyes of many, Christianity is just one of these avenues. But is that all we are? Just another alternative to the path of goodness? Stretch this further and we will find ourselves subscribing to the “all roads lead to heaven” argument. Afterall, all religions teach good. And since all are largely the same, it really doesn’t matter which road you take.
So we see, it’s not just about being good or morally upright. For, however good I try to be, I am still not perfect (a truth even the humanist will readily attest to). The Bible points out that “there is none righteous” (Rom 3:10). Since the fall of Man, we have been desparately trying to be what God created us to be. But apart from Him, we can keep trying but we will keep failing! The good we display is a far cry from the good that He is, and the good we can be when fully reconciled with Him. And we can never achieve this by our own efforts. In other words, where God is concerned, I am doomed and condemned. All my goodness apart from Him is useless and I need to be saved from this terrible plight! God knows this, and that’s why He sent Jesus to show us the craziest, the most absurd way to be saved. All we need to do is to believe in Jesus by faith and we will be saved. How odd that must sound when everyone else says to do good to get to heaven? How weak to have to depend on a person and name like Jesus when others say to merely depend on yourself?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
For sure, our goodness or good works cannot save us from the curse of sin. That’s what separates Christianity from the others. It is faith in Jesus Christ that releases the grace of God into our lives. In response to His love and amazing grace, we begin to be changed into His goodness and perfection that impacts others for His glory.
Indeed, we don’t need faith to be good. But we sure need faith to be saved.
PS: If you are not yet a believer and you’d like to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ and be reconciled with God who made you, you can speak to God directly. Just tell Him that you are sorry for the wrong things you have done and ask for His forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ. As you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth, that’s called faith! It’s that simple 🙂 After that, drop me a note so that I can rejoice with you and keep you in prayer. Then visit a church and tell the pastor what you have done. He will help you be a part of God’s family and show you how to grow as a new creation in Jesus Christ. If you do not know which church to go to, you are most welcome to visit our community at Covenant Vision Christian Church. We’d be more than glad to have you.