“Teacher! He declared. “All these I have kept since I was a boy.”
One of the things that cause confusion when it comes to the matter of conversion to Christ, is the fact that some people are extremely nice people. On the surface they do not seem to need converting at all. They say what the young man said to Jesus in our text – “all these I have kept since I was a young child”. They do not imagine they need any Saviour from sin for they do not imagine themselves to be a sinner.
Allow me to call in C S Lewis to help us understand this particular aspect of human personality.
“If you have sound nerves and intelligence and health and popularity and a good upbringing, you are likely to be quite satisfied with your character as it is. “Why drag God into it?” you may ask. A certain level of good conduct comes fairly easily to you. You are not one of those wretched creatures who are always being tripped up by sex, or dipsomania, or nervousness, or bad temper. Everyone says you are a nice chap and (between ourselves) you agree with them. You are quite likely to believe that all this niceness is your own doing: and you may easily not feel the need for any better kind of goodness. Often people who have all these natural kinds of goodness cannot be brought to recognise their need for Christ at all until, one day, the natural goodness lets them down and their self-satisfaction is shattered. In other words, it is hard for those who are “rich” in this sense to enter the Kingdom ….”
(Mere Christianity. Book IV Chapter 10)
The oldest trick of fallen human nature is to think of itself as perfectly acceptable to God as is, with no need for any change whatever. Is that you? Have you thought of Christianity merely in terms of being a nice person as opposed to a person who is not nice? Has that been your total summarisation of the reason why Jesus died on the Cross? Well, it is a wrong idea.
No matter how “nice” we are, we cannot be “nice enough to meet God’s standard of righteous living! Try as we might, God’s holiness is too lofty for us and nice though we may be, we know we are not perfect.
No, it’s not about being ‘nice’ or harmless, or helpful….. Rather it is being ‘new’ inside. It’s a new birth that helps us to see our desperate need of God’s total forgiveness.
Please do not be fooled by the privilege of a good upbringing and the gift of a pleasant personality. Like all of us, even the worst of us, you need Jesus Christ as your Saviour. You cannot be your own Saviour. If you try, your cause will be lost.
O God, open my eyes to see and understand my need before you. Deliver me from delusions about my own righteousness.