I recently read a quote from a Prominent Christian AuthorTM, and I couldn’t help but disagree. I seem to be doing more and more of that nowadays. Here’s the quote:
God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development.
I read this over several times, trying to figure out what the author meant. I can understand him contrasting character development with comfort, and I agree that God did not put me on this earth to be comfortable. But did he really put (and leave) me here with the “ultimate” goal of developing my character? Does it all really boil down to me being nice?
I first read this quote in a critique of this author’s book, and I thought, No, that can’t be what he really said. So I grabbed the book off the shelf and dug around until I found that line. Sure enough, that’s exactly what he is saying. When all is said and done, God is really interested in our character more than anything else.
I just cannot accept this. Jesus did not approach the disciples and say, “Follow me and I will make you people of good character.” He challenged them with an assignment. He had a job for them to do.
Jesus did not separate the sheep from goats by seeing how nice they were. No, he looked at their actions. His criterion was how well did they did what he commanded.
Yes, I know that Jesus spoke a great deal about our attitude, how hatred is as bad as murder, how lust is equal to adultery. It seems unfortunate to me, however, how these passages (the author references the sermon on the mount, 1 Cor 13, and 1 Pet. 3:8-9) get more airplay than something like “you are my friends if you do what I command you” (Jn. 15:14). Jesus didn’t say, “You are my friends if your attitude is what I command you,” or even “if your character is what I command you.” To Jesus, apparently, it was less about being, and more about doing.
These passages drove the point home to me. I did a search on “doing good”:
- Acts 10:38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
- Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
- 1 Peter 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
- 1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
- 1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
My hope is that by spending more time on doing good, and less on trying to be good, I’ll accomplish both.
P.S. Can you name the Prominent Christian Author who wrote that line?