The dangers of teaching people to be good

Posted by Matt Lane on March 20th, 2017 filed in Bible, Christian Living, Church, Faith
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I don’t know about you but I want my kids to be good kids. I want them to be nice to their classmates and respect their teachers. I hope they grow up to be generous, thoughtful and loving adults. The world could use a lot more people that showed love to each other and genuinely took care of each other.

But as a Christian, those things can’t be the goal. God’s call to use is not chiefly about doing good things. No doubt as I love God and treasure Jesus as my savior, I will be compelled to love my neighbor as myself. At the bottom of my joy though has to be God. Not the feeling I get for helping someone. Not the return I’ll get as I donate money and receive the tax write off. Not knowing I’ve made the world a better place. Not that I think God will be pleased with me. Rather my good works must always originate and end in giving God the glory and bringing fame to Jesus.

Most of us are familiar with and the great commandment. Jesus says to love God and then love others. There is an order here and it’s supremely important. Doing the reverse puts everything on it’s head and is not loving.

If we teach people to just love others, we’ll feel good for sure. Others will benefit and the world will be a better place. But it’s not loving to do good works in the name of ourselves. Loving people without the intent of giving God all the glory robs God and that’s not loving. It’s sinful actually. It builds ourselves up instead of God. People need to hear the gospel and be shaped and formed by the good news of Jesus Christ first and foremost.  This is not a one time event of being shaped. It is a lifetime of molding. It’s true that if the pendulum swings to all social justice without the gospel, we are not loving our neighbor as ourselves. But conversely if we are not at all concerned with social justice then we have completely missed out on the good news that is meant for the nations and we are also not loving our neighbors.

Works in the name of ourselves will lead good people to hell. Works in the name of Jesus who is the Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, the Great High Priest, the Good Shepherd, and the King of Kings will lead sinners to drink from the living water.


“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Stir up each other to love and good works

Posted by Matt Lane on January 30th, 2017 filed in Christian Living, Church, Faith, Small Groups
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tells us to “stir up one another to love and good works”.  There are some 50+ other “one another” statements in the New Testament that we as Christians should pay attention to but in context, is a fairly good summary.

So stirring up one another is essential and part of how God has set up our sanctification process. Jesus gave his life for the church () and so it goes without saying that being with others is by design. We need to live in community so that we are known and where we know others. Biblical community helps to keep our hearts soft to God and others and is the foundation of the guardrails of the Christian life that God designed. Isolation can lead to unhealthiness in many ways but think the 7 deadly sins.

In community, I love to be challenged on things as it makes me think, confess, repent and change. Knowing the heart of the one challenging makes the experience sweet and I can receive it through the lens of them being for me, not against me. Being challenged in our Christian walk is so needed as we all wear blinders.

That being said, if someone charges at me instead of challenges, there can be more hurt than help. Charging gives the impression that it’s just about being right or about condemning and less about coming alongside someone. Now there are some situations when it’s needed. Jesus did it with the Pharisees in . Paul did it to Peter in . Great sin requires a strong response but this shouldn’t be the norm.

So let’s stir up and challenge each other but not charge (unless absolutely needed) so that we push each other to be “imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God ().


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Sanctity of Human Life Day

Posted by Matt Lane on January 27th, 2017 filed in Christian Living
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We recently celebrated MLK day and Sanctity of Human Life Day and although they were not on the same weekend this year, they often are. While this is not the first post connecting these two days, both days push for much reflection, thought, and then action.

Martin Luther King Jr. fought for rights of the oppressed and marginalized. For those that were treated unfairly and often not even seen as humans. His fight is most well know to be for the black community who were treated horribly at the time and not afforded their God given rights. If he was still alive today he would still be fighting it seems. But it’s not a stretch to say that MLK was fighting for the unborn. The unborn are treated horribly and not afforded their God given rights. The unborn are oppressed and marginalized. They are not seen as humans. if MLK was still alive today, perhaps he would be fighting for the unborn too.

Abortion is murder. There is no other way to describe it. As Christians we cannot turn a blind eye to any group of people that are being oppressed, marginalized or in this case, slaughtered. Instead, we are to move into the issue with truth and grace. Jesus’ earthly ministry is our example for this. From healing the sick to raising the dead to associating with those of all different social rankings, Jesus was so often focused on those who were marginalized and treated as second class. To move into difficult things is hard but holy and as Christians we are called to this.

Sure stopping abortion is crucial. But stopping people from wanting to get abortions is even better. The farther up stream we can get the better. So for sure we need to stop abortions. But what about the mothers who feel like they have no hope? What does a young teenage girl do when she cannot get help at home or anywhere else? Why do women feel trapped with no other option? Why do they feel as if there is no other way?

According to the 2010 census data, the US population is over 70% white and under 13% black but the abortion rate is 39% white and 28% black according to one report. In other reports the percentage of black abortions is even higher. Either way, there is a significant amount of total abortions happening in the black community. This should cause us to pause and wonder what is going on. It should make our hearts ache that the one people group MLK fought so hard for continues to be treated as non human in the womb. It should make us all weep for the loss of all those children.

Yes there is a large percentage of women from minority groups that get abortions but don’t think for a moment that white girls from “good Christian homes” are not frequenting abortion clinics too because they are. This should also make us pause and cry out to a holy God that tells us to look after the widow and orphan.

So to bring this to a close, let’s be unapologetically against abortion. But let’s also be for the marginalized women who feel that they have no other option. Let’s make space for the messiness of young pregnant teens of all people groups and show them Christ’s love instead of condemnation. Let’s show them that God, through his son Jesus, will give them another way. A way that is life giving and offers hope in the midst of chaos.