Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Art of Being Good

I love rules. There is something inside of this second child that, although I like being a free spirit and have a strong will, I do enjoy a good set of rules. In school when the teacher would give us rubrics for a class, I loved reading it over and checking my work against it. If the teacher gave me points off, I expected it to be because I did something contrary to the rubrics. And because of all of this, I have decided that I would have made an amazing Israelite. I obviously could never have been a Pharisee or other form of leader, being that I'm a girl and all but I could've raised one or been married to one. I would have rocked as an Israelite.

I'm reading 1 and 2 Samuel again. I am so drawn to those books. Something about Israel not being satisfied with God being their King and wanting to be like other nations and have a physical king and God actually giving them what they desired, all to show them that it wasn't what they needed. Something about God choosing Saul, a handsome nobody to rule over Israel, again giving them what they thought they wanted. Saul tried to be a good king but the pressure of people and the love they had for David was so consuming it killed him. Something about David being this little ruddy boy that was such a powerful lover of and warrior for God. That he desired to please God and not men, enough to kill the man that helped Saul die. Enough to kill the men that killed Saul's son, although they thought they were doing good by protecting their king.

But I'm getting close to those words in chapter 11, "In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle..." That little sign that David wasn't where he was supposed to be. He should have been out killing people. He should have been out doing what he was made to do but instead, he stayed back. And we know what happens. The looking, the taking of what isn't his, covering his sin by murder, a baby taken as a consequence and then blindness to what he had done. We know how Nathan confronted him and God allowed the gravity of his sin, not to Bathsheba, not to his wives, not to Uriah, not to Israel but to God to be seen and felt. "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight," Ps. 51:4.

David was so good. He was a good Israelite. He believed God and followed him. You see it over and over again in 1 and 2 Samuel. He goes up against the giant as a young kid. You see him spare Saul's life twice. Yet, he is also capable of murder. Of adultery. Perhaps even of rape.

In our society people believe they are born good but then through society or circumstances or family they are made evil. This is why we are shocked by bombings and school shootings. How could someone do this? Who influenced them to do these terrible things? It's in our churches too. We forget Romans. We forget that Paul said that "just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sin." Romans 5:12. We forget he said, "No one is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God." Romans 3:10-11.

It's easy to see the evil in the mean people. It's harder to see it in the good. Especially when it's you. I had a friend who is suffering because of something someone else did. She had nothing to do with it yet she is living the consequences. In her anger she yelled, "I did everything the right way!" "I didn't do this to me they did this to me." In her hot tears she quenched her fist and cried. Why would God allow this to happen to her? Why would God seem to punish her for doing right? She is a great rule follower. Yet, she is suffering. And as I was discussing this with my Maker, who is oh so sweet, He reminded me of something.

We all have sinned. We are all evil. We are all not worthy of any good. As much rule following as I have done. As much as she has done, we fall short. I was reminded of a time in youth group when our youth minister asked what we would say to God if he asked us why he should let us into heaven. And I remember thinking, because I don't drink or cuss or have sex with anyone. I'm a good servant for Jesus. I was serious. I was a great rule follower. But then our youth minister said, "If your answer was anything other than 'Because of what Jesus did for me' then you're living for the wrong thing." And I scoffed at him. I scoffed just like a good Pharisee would. Yes, Jesus dying was a great thing but I also did great things. And there in my depraved, dead heart I did not understand. I did not seek God. I was not righteous.

And how thankful I am that less than ten years later, I was pursued by One who chose to open my eyes. I was bought with a price that I could never repay and placed blameless before my Maker. To be able to have a relationship with Him. And read books like 1 and 2 Samuel and be in utter amazement of His patience and His goodness and His complete self-control to not zap His chosen people because of their stupidity. And then to be reminded that I deserve the same, no matter how good I am at following rules. No matter how much satisfaction I have in being "good"; Jesus is the only thing that makes me good.

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