If you died today and found yourself standing before God, and He asked why you should be let in, what would you answer?
Pastor Tom Allen from Cairn University and Riverstone Church in Bucks County, PA asks this question a lot. I’ve sat through many a sermon in which he describes the responses from various people give him, and the answers usually have one common denominator: “Because I’m a good person.”
Listen and subscribe to Faithwire’s Faith vs. Culture Podcast, hosted by Dale Partridge and Dan Andros.
It’s a great place to start a faith conversation because it gets right to the heart of the matter. Now, there’s a caveat – you don’t necessarily have to run up to strangers and force this question and conversation. Building a relationship is crucial to establishing trust, credibility and a comfort level to have a meaningful engagement with other people.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend weeks and months building the relationship before asking a question like this. Going out of your way to help someone often instantly triggers them to ask you why you’re helping out – now you have a platform to explain the why behind the kindness.
So many people think they are good by nature when this is simply not the case. A cursory look at the Ten Commandments should give us an indication of the sorry state we’re in. Have you ever lied? Have you ever coveted? Have you ever cheated? Have you ever disrespected your parents? Even if you’ve never murdered someone, Jesus said “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” We also read in Matthew that the same goes for adultery: “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
It does not take long to realize we are sinful creatures, thanks to Adam and Eve’s original sin, partaking in the forbidden fruit. And the wages of sin is death – but praise the Lord, we have been made righteous by His sacrifice on the cross for us, and whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
It’s a thought-provoking question that everyone will be interested in, no matter what stage of life they’re in. And one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that we are good by nature, rather than sinful.
As always, be careful to speak the truth in love, recognizing it’s not just random philosophical conversation you’re having. Many people will feel convicted by the Spirit, and possibly be shattered realizing they’re not living in a God-honoring way.
Prayers for all Christians that we may be bold and purposeful in our conversations, and that they may bear fruit.