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How can you be a really good person?

beach umbrella You don’t get many door-to-door salesmen at the beach (or should I say “umbrella-to-umbrella” salesmen?). But you get some.

Usually they’re hawkers trying to sell their photography services. But on our last trip, a young man and woman came by to ask questions. They wanted us to think about dying.How certain are you you’d go to heaven?”

We all four answered 100%. Not because we think we’re so good. That would be laughable.  We’d probably already had a “disagreement” or two that very hour.

Granted, we WANT to be good. I assume that most people want to be good. They think about it. They make efforts at it. They may even pray about it.

But none of that works.

At least not for very long. Our own efforts at trying to be good often backfire. Something in our own plans will go always go awry. Maybe a spouse misinterprets our “kind” deed and we end up in a fight instead, or a child keeps annoying us so much that we explode despite our best intentions. Something.

So how CAN we ever be good?

It’s counterintuitive. Instead of focusing on trying, we focus elsewhere. Off ourselves. Onto Someone else.

Hanging out with the Savior. Letting him rub off on us. His presence does mysterious things to us, and the more profoundly we let him love us, the more profoundly we’ll love not only him, but also others.

That doesn’t mean we quit trying to be good, but it does mean our attention is no longer self-centered. Our goal becomes connecting with the ultimate source of goodness. Then we discover we’ve been empowered and freed up to live well, love well, and do good things, and not just in a “follow the rules” way.

Instead of living out of guilt, we’ll live out of gratitude. He’ll get in our blood, as we get covered with his. As we do life together with Jesus, intentionally and aware, we can rest on his strength, in the invisible kingdom, instead of grunting through this world by our own self-discipline (or lack thereof).

It’s a different way to live. A happier, more fulfilled way. A more protected and effective way.

It’s how we’re designed to live.

Back on the beach, the young man and woman said many people answer with a 50-70% surety that they’re good enough to get into heaven. Too bad. I’m 100% sure that NONE of us are “good enough.” But equally sure that Christ is. His goodness is what gets us in. And keeps us there.

So how can we be a really good person? We can’t.

But we can believe in the One who is. And he says that’s good enough.

Before the couple left us to go talk with others, they shared scriptures and told us their faith stories. It was sweet and refreshing, and, well, good. That happens in the kingdom.

And they never offered to take our picture. That, too, was sweet and refreshing, and, well, good. :-)


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