“Well, people who aren’t Christian can be good too.”
This is a statement I have heard many times when talking about morality and it’s relation to Christianity. I firmly agree with this statement. It is quite true that people who don’t know Christ as Lord and Savior often live very good and decent lives from a human perspective. I argue, along with the great philosopher C.S. Lewis, that all people basically possess a moral conscience as a grace gift from God, whether they believe in him or not (Mere Christianity, p. 49). It stands to reason than, that most people would live generally decent lives, since right and wrong is certainly hard-wired into us from birth. Of course, as C.S. Lewis also argues in Mere Christianity, there are those who seem to have had their wiring jumbled in some way so as to be predisposed to insanity or perversion. Yet it stands to reason, that those cases are few and far between compared to the number of decently moral people who seem to know there is a right and a wrong, even if they don’t know the source of such knowledge.
Most people can agree that humanity is good on some level. However, there is a great distance between good from a human perspective and the glory of God, which is ultimate good. The main problem exposed in the Bible isn’t the lack of human good from a human perspective, but the fact that humanity has fallen short of ultimate good, which is God’s glory. Indeed there are still great traces of God’s glory inside of us. We see it in the willingness of a person to sacrifice himself or herself for another in combat (this is the greatest expression of love according to Jesus in John 15:13). We see it also in the willingness of a mother to go hungry so her children can thrive. I could name countless examples which prove that there is still good in humanity. I could also give countless examples which prove our utter brokenness. The truth is, that while the thread of good remains because of God’s grace gift to us in the form of conscience, the fact remains that we have fallen from glory to mere worldly good. It is like the difference between bronze and pure gold. The value of bronze by weight is mere nothing when compared to the value of gold by the same weight.
Glory is infinitely more valuable than the human concept of good, and yet glory (not the human concept of good) is the standard God holds us to. So in order for us to be good enough to enter into God’s presence, we would have to be perfectly good in the glory of God sense rather than in the human perceived sense. So as you can see, the distance between human good and the glory of God is vast, and that is a problem for us.
Thankfully, God is intervened for us by sending his son Jesus to live in our place (keeping God’s glory perfectly intact in himself), die in our place (satisfying the penalty for our having fallen short), and rising from the dead (guaranteeing that everything he did is true and sufficient in God’s eyes). Jesus bridged the gap between good and glory for us and only by entering the path he has laid out for us can we be right with God. Under Christ, we no longer fall short of God’s glory, but are fully restored to our right and proper standing with God which we walked away from when we chose to fall into sin. To use a biblical term, we stand justified before God in Christ (Romans 3:24).
So may each of us trust in God through Jesus to take us from mere human good, to good in the glory of God sense. We can be who we were made to be, but we must enter through the only gate God has prescribed (Matthew 7:13). No other path can get us there (John 14:6). Entrance is given to us by way of a gift (Romans 6:23). I believe that God wants as many who desire to enter into Jesus, to do so. If you are still standing outside of that door, what are you waiting for? Come on over.
“For all have sinned and fall short of thea] glory of God.” -Romans 3:23
“On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” -Romans 10:8-10