by Lon Allison
(Editor’s note: This is the 5th in a 9-part series on The Fruit of the Spirit & Evangelism, based on Galatians 5:22-23.)
We are in the midst of a series of blogs linking Evangelism with the Fruit of the Spirit. My assignment is to think a bit regarding Goodness and Evangelism. My first draft followed an expected line, namely, that believers need to exemplify ”goodness” with the persons we seek to draw toward Christ. We have all learned, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” That idea has been dealt with by many and done well.
I am choosing a different idea. I want to speak of the listener’s or seeker’s inherent desire to be good. A good God who has made humankind in his likeness has placed this desire into the core of our being. And when someone is being drawn toward Christ (John 6:44), this is often a way for the Spirit to move. This inner need for moral goodness is met straight on by the gospel of Jesus Christ, but not in the way the seeker hopes.
By that I mean, the seeker wishes to be a better person and may be looking to God to impart such a quality. But instead of God granting this gift like a genie granting a wish, the gospel becomes bad news before it is good news. The seeker of God’s goodness comes to a shocking surprise. He or she is told that whatever goodness he or she possesses or thinks he or she possesses looks like a filthy rag to God. “There is none righteous not even one”; “All fall short…”
Rather than topping off one’s moral tank with some additional goodness, the listener/seeker finds that in God’s view, his or her goodness tank is dangerously empty to begin with. Thus, the notion of “moral improvement” becomes “moral crisis.” When Peter preached his first post-Resurrection sermon in Acts 2, his Spirit-inspired words brought the listeners face to face with their moral bankruptcy to which they cried out, “What must we do to be saved?”
A holy and truly GOOD God grants godly sorrow as a part of the grace of salvation.
Christian witness and especially the preaching of the gospel must expose the bad news before the good news of grace is really great. As Christ followers, we realize this process doesn’t only occur during our regeneration, but becomes a regular aspect of our lives. Nearly every day I am graciously shown my depravity. I believe it was Packer who said, “At no point am I as bad as I might be, but at no point am I as good as I should be.” That says it quite well. And such discovery leads me daily to repentance and gratitude for the vastness of God’s relentless and everlasting grace.
So, friends, let’s be bold enough to lovingly tell seeking people the truth about goodness. Let’s tell them we all are actually less good than we think and more in need than we imagined. To this realization comes the magnificence of God’s grace in Christ. Soon, the longing for goodness is forgotten and the longing for the good God replaces it. And then, surprise, surprise, surprise, Christ’s goodness is regularly infused into them and they become more like him day by day.
Thank you, God, for your goodness in Christ and through Christ given to us, in doses we can manage. Behold the wonder of God!