Be good for goodness sake. This is a topic I discuss in my book that is coming out soon. If you’re singing a popular Christmas song right now, I apologize, but I am too. If we were to ask most people today what is the general purpose of everything and everyone, regardless of religion or beliefs, I’m willing to bet the vast majority would say that it is for good to be done. That sounds right and spiritual and, well, like the good thing to do. I’ve yet to meet anyone that has made it their sole purpose to be bad to everyone and cause nothing but chaos and devastation and think they’re doing “good.”. Oh man. Now I’m just getting confused. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said, “You can do a kind action when you’re not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong–only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him.” No, I think we all could come to the same general conclusion, which is, good is the goal.
If you dig into this empty statement, it leads to the unavoidable question of, what is the reason for doing anything good? I’m going to propose two paths we can take: one being that there is no God and therefore anything goes. The other being the polar opposite. There is a God and it would be beneficial to know what His will is.
If there is no God, then anything goes
Let me clarify this from the beginning, so that it will not be a stumblingblock to hearing the rest of what I say. You don’t have to believe in God to be able to do good things. That’s not the argument here. Everyone is able to do some good things. There have been numerous serial killers, tyrants, pedophiles, and terrorists who while doing evil, have still managed to do good and lovingly protect their family and friends. So I am certainly not saying that an atheist or skeptic cannot possibly do anything good unless they acknowledge and believe in God. In fact, the case could be made that many do more good than Christians or religious people.
So what am I saying? Well let me read some passages in the Bible. You may not believe the Bible, but I want to show you what it says and maybe you can understand where I’m coming from.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Paul, who was one of the deepest and most educated of the writers in the New Testament, explains a lot in this section and much after this. He argues that there is truth, we can know it, and we have rejected it, which is why we are living in rebellion to God. So he is not making the case here that someone can’t do good outside of a relationship with God. But what he is clarifying is that there is an objective truth and we are either submitting to it, or pushing it down in defiance.
Let’s now consider the opposing view. If there is a God, what does that mean?
If there is a God, it would be wise to consider His will
If God is real, then it makes sense to consider what His will is. Right? That seems simple enough. I just thought that since we’re investigating this issue, it would be useful to look at it from this angle. Go back to Romans 1 and 2. By those chapters, we’re told that there is a moral standard and it is stamped on our hearts. It’s dropped into our DNA so that we know it instinctively. Now, as I said earlier, this does not necessarily mean that we understand everything about right and wrong, nor all the specifics. However, we do have an understanding, albeit rudimentary, of morality. That’s a far cry from being a blank slate and just happening to be here, for no reason, by chance alone.
In a theistic worldview, one that says there is a God, that would mean that there is First Cause to everything. Think about an elaborate set up of dominos. Let’s say there are one hundred thousand of them. If I go to the one thousandth one and say, “What knocked that one down.” You would probably say, “The nine hundred and ninety-ninth one.” Then if I pressed further and said, ‘Well what knocked that one down?” “The one just before it.” And so on the conversation would go…until we got to the first one. Then the conversation takes a deeper turn. That’s where many are lost on and where much of the divide comes in.
What was that first cause? I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of us will admit that there has to be something that is eternal, otherwise, nothing at all would be here. So what is that? Well you know my position. I believe in the God of the Bible. I will not rehash my case for Him again. That was in a previous chapter. All I want to point out is that no matter what you believe (Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Spaghetti Monster, etc.), you still have to believe something was eternal and was always there. This something is where everything came from.
Again, no need to wonder about where I’m going with this. I believe in God. So the idea is, it would be important to understand what the purpose is of everything (including us and how we should live) from this First Cause Eternal One. That’s where I would steer us to the Bible and the Person of Jesus.
There is a God and therefore, meaning and purpose
I touch on more of this in the book, but if anything, I want the church to be ready to give an answer and to do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). I recently spoke with a believer in Christ who is a homosexual. He has experienced a great deal of pressure to change and to examine what He believes about God and his sexuality. The concept of good kept coming up. “I’m a good person. I just want to do good. Why can’t everyone just do good things and that be enough?” Church, are we ready to get into these conversations? Are you ready to give not just an answer, but a Godly, biblical answer? Are you prepared, because this is the time we are in. Now is the time for the church to rise to the challenge and be bold, consistent, biblical, and loving to all.