We can’t pick and choose

I am reading a book called How Good is Good Enough by Andy Stanley. I ordered this short book (92 pages) a few weeks ago and I finally sat down and read most of the book today. Something interesting struck me in the book. On page 78 Stanely wrote:

“For most people, choosing a religion is like choosing a flavor ice cream- we pick what we like, what we are comfortable with, what suits our taste. That’s understandable, but it’s not very smart. The issue is not What do I like? or How was I raised? or What makes me comfortable? The issue is What is true? I find that people don’t like to be backed into a corner and forced to discuss religion in terms of true versus false. Again, understandable. But once you decide that people live forever somewhere, you are staking your eternity on what you choose to believe is true. So it is entirely appropriate to discuss religion in terms of what is and is not true.”

I know many people who believe in Jesus, but don’t really believe all of what Jesus claims. They pick and choose what they want to believe in. Almost like we were creating our own pizza and we could put on as many toppings as we want or leave off the toppings that we don’t care for. Stanely has pointed out an issue that is very prevalent in our society. We want to believe in what we want to believe in. We don’t want to compromise our life style or choices so instead we just pick and choose what we want to believe in or is convenient for us.

For instance I know many people who believe in Jesus- believe that he is the son of God, came to earth, died on the cross, and was raised from the dead. But at the same time, these people also believe that if your a good person and live a good life, that you’ll go to heaven even if you don’t believe in Jesus. This just does not measure up. If you are a Christian then you must believe in what the bible teaches about Jesus. Jesus taught, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).” So if you proclaim to be a Christian, you would also believe that you must believe in Jesus to go to heaven and be with God (the father) one day. All the good things we do here on earth will not earn us a free ticket to heaven. Rather, Jesus calls us to trust and believe in him– that is the only way to heaven.

The “good people go to heaven” idea just does not hold up if you claim to be a Christian. The bible points out that not one person on earth is perfect or good- not even Mother Teresa. “There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10).” We can never be good enough to go to heaven. We make small mistakes daily. We are angry drivers, tell a little white lie, gossip about a co-worker, the list goes on. Maybe these sins are not as bad as murder or adultery, but they are still sins. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” That is why Jesus died on the cross, because we all fall short of God’s glory and standard of goodness. In the old testament Jews had to sacrifice animals when they made mistakes (sins) in order to be forgiven. Jesus sacrificed himself by dying on the cross for our sins so that we could be forgiven. All we have to do is ask God for forgiveness and believe that Jesus died to be the sacrifice for our sins.

So as Christians, we cannot subscribe to the “good people go to heaven” idea. Jesus’s teachings points us in a different direction. We cannot pick and choose the parts of Christianity that we want to believe in–it would no longer be Christianity. Just as if you were to bake a cake and leave out the eggs, would the cake turn out right? No. You need the eggs in order to bake the cake correctly. Just like we need to believe that¬† Jesus is the only way we can go to Heaven.¬† Being good is not enough alone. We need to believe that Jesus died so that we might be forgiven for our sins and one day spend eternity with God (our father).


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