I read a post this morning by Derek Leman, Whatever Happened to On, Son of Peleth. You can read the post if you want to learn who On, son of Peleth is. What I want to do here is interact with something that Derek says:
“God’s mercy triumphs over his judgment. Those who begin in rebellion
can still extricate themselves from judgment. Those who uproot the will
to do the deed are as those who uproot the deed itself.
“Is our sense of God’s mercy that strong? Do we assume sinners that
we see as we go about our daily lives are people likely to find
redemption? Do we sneer when we see a Zacchaeus-like character doing
something religious or charitable? Or do we, like Yeshua, grant their
actions and words credibility, welcoming them into the kingdom of
What makes a person good? What makes a deed good? I remembering watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Years
ago, and, in one episode, a tornado was hitting the town. Hank, the
bad boy of the show, the guy who owned the saloon, pimped prostitutes,
and often did not care for anybody but himself (yet showed a soft side
every now and then), was about to save someone’s life. “Hank’s trying
to get some heaven points,” someone watching the show with me said. You
do have to wonder why Hank suddenly started acting altruistically! I
doubt it was a sign of his genuine character!
I also think of Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. “It is
too late for me, my son.” He didn’t feel that he could turn to good,
for he was so far along on the bad path. One act—-throwing the Emperor
into the shaft when the Emperor was shocking Luke—-marked Darth Vader’s
turn from darkness to light.
I can do a good deed here, but does that make me a good person, if I
have a flaw there? Some Christians talk as if God does not accept
incomplete obedience. Some Christians also like to focus on the motive
behind a good deed. Is it to earn salvation? Is it to get approval
from others? If so, then it doesn’t count. Or so they say.
Can a random good deed make a person good? How many good deeds does
one have to do before one counts as good? I wonder this myself.
Reaching out to others is not particularly natural to me.
Then there’s grace. God accepts me as righteous, even if technically
I am not, on account of what Jesus did. But I’m hesitant to believe
that, since I don’t want to be like the Christian jerks I know—-people
who are far from loving, yet take refuge in God’s grace. And yet, then
again, who am I to say that they should not trust God’s grace? I just
wish it would lead to them being more loving. But who am I to talk?
There are people who can say the same thing about me!
This may come as a surprise to you, but this is actually one of the
few days when I am not stressing out over these questions. My blogging
and my state of mind are not always the same thing. Today, I just
prefer to let myself and others be, without worrying about whether I am
perfect, or even good. That doesn’t mean that I will do bad. It just
means that I refuse to make the perfect the enemy of the good. If I
were stressing out over these issues today, this post would communicate
that—-you’d see anger, you’d see ranting, you’d see passion.
The sun is shining. The wind is blowing. Why blow a perfectly good
day on introspection that leads to negative thinking? Unfortunately, in
my case, thinking about religion contributes to precisely that. So
I’ll be pretty selective today about the sermons I listen to!