Better Than “Doing What’s Right”

A year ago, while working my part-time custodial job at my church, I met a young man who was waiting for a bus to pick him up. He had just been released from jail and was headed back to Caledonia to resume his old job. He told me he owed child support money, and while in jail, he had realized that he needed to get back to the Lord and "do what's right."

I've heard that saying often enough: "Do what's right." And there's a lot to be said for doing what's right. Good for that young man, who wants to do the right thing. The world would be a far better place if we all could consistently pull that off. But realistically, we don't. And it's not what the gospel is about. The gospel is not about behavior modification; it is about heart transformation. It is not about our doing well but Christ's doing well for us, in us, and through us. The gospel is about experiencing a change in our source of life, from what the Bible calls the "flesh" to eternal life that resides in the Son of God.

Jesus in us and we in him: that is the arrangement God offers us out of his great, great love for us. We are no longer on our own, striving to meet the quota on an endless moral assembly line; instead, those of us who are exhausted by our efforts to get it right, and beaten down by our failures, can rest in Someone who got it right for us; who loves us beyond anything we can imagine; and who doesn't stand outside us as a taskmaster but lives inside us as our very life, producing the fruit of his own character in us as we walk with him.

John 1:17 says, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." No more doing what's right in order to become righteous; instead, doing what's right because we are righteous, and by nature we want to do those things that please the One who loves us. That is one way of looking at Christianity.