I was sitting in a public library recently, and in the library I overheard an exchange between a mother, her high school-aged daughter, and the librarian, who was a thirty-something year old male who graduated from a liberal Christian university. She’s in an elective Bible class. She doesn’t really care for it. But she took it with some friends. She said she “didn’t want to be preached to for 2 hours.” Her mom retorted, “you need it,” as if the mother doesn’t need it too. The mother went on to talk about all the moral failures of her daughter, which sounded like her attempt at justifying her daughter’s need for the Bible class, which I might add is taught at a public school (who knows what is actually being taught). It was sad to hear the Bible being reduced to a guidebook for a better, but still unregenerate you.
The gospel, Jesus, His life and ministry, cannot and should not be reduced down to mere moralism: behavior modification. All religions deal with behavior modification. The gospel of Christ goes deeper. Dealing with morality alone is too shallow. The gospel goes to the root: the sinful heart. Changing the outside without changing the internal is pointless. You can repaint, buff, and wax a car. It may look stunning, but if the engine doesn’t run, then the body work was pointless. It’s not drivable. You cannot do anything but admire it’s appearance. That’s moralism. You can admire one’s good works, or perhaps your own, but it doesn’t change the motives. Bad people can do good things. However, it is a transformation of the heart that changes the motives and intentions underneath the actions, and allows for a lifestyle of goodness initiated by the finished work of Christ versus a few good deeds to help numb the guilty conscience.
Christ isn’t a tool to mold your child into a model citizen. He is the life-source of the human heart. You want life? You want to really live? Then look unto Christ for He is the transformer of the soul. He makes all things new.