When Good Lives Are Bad News

There are two ways we get life wrong:

1. We want to be our own Lord instead of Jesus

I often replace Jesus as Lord with me as lord, running life my way. I want to be in charge. This often leads to behaviour that by moral standards is bad, e.g. sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. We do not think Jesus is enough, disbelieving that living under His rule is the “good life.” So we replace Jesus with others things.

But there is another way we get life wrong:

2. We want to be our own Saviour instead of Jesus

I often replace Jesus as Saviour with me as saviour: attempting to save myself by doing good things, saving other people by straightening out their lives, or saving the world through good causes.

People trying to be their own saviour often live morally good lives. They’re good husbands, wives, and parents because they want to rescue their family. Or they’re involved in good causes, e.g. raising money for the poor, campaigning for justice, or addressing environmental issues.

These are commendable things. Replacing Jesus as Saviour often looks like a good life. People in your church are doing this and you think they’re doing great.

But its fruit will eventually become apparent: pride, frustration, stress, anxiety, or manipulation. Consider a parent trying to fix their child thinking it all depends on them. They may be manipulative or domineering as they attempt to control and protect their child. Or they may be bitter about their child’s behaviour or weighed down with stress.

The people who are rejecting Jesus as Lord will usually be easy to spot. But be on the lookout for people who are rejecting Jesus as Saviour.

People who are rejecting Jesus as Lord must repent, find joy in Christ and change their ways. People who are rejecting Jesus as Saviour must do … nothing. Instead, stop. Listen: “It is finished.” There is nothing left to do. You have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for you.

Here’s the good news: Jesus is Lord and Saviour. He’s both a better Lord and a better Saviour than you will ever be.

Tim Chester is director of The Porterbrook Institute and a leader in The Crowded House. He blogs at www.timchester.co.uk and is the author of a number of books, including Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community (co-authored with Steve Timmis) and You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavor and Negative Emotions. His latest bookA Meal With Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table, will be published by Crossway in April. He's married with two teenage daughters and lives in Sheffield, UK.