There’s a kind of Christianity that seems too saccharine—too sickly sweet. We smell it a mile off, then walk a mile in the other direction to avoid it. We’ve all met these Christians, and maybe, we’ve been one of these sickly-sweet Christians ourselves. Personally, I’ve spent the vast majority of my Christian life trying to avoid the “do-gooder” label: attempting to follow Christ passionately, without being a complete weirdo!
I’ve spent the vast majority of my Christian life trying to avoid the “do-gooder” label: attempting to follow Christ passionately, without being a complete weirdo!
The problem is that, by reacting against “do-gooder” Christianity, we risk missing a significant aspect of what it means to be shaped by the gospel. When Paul urges the Galatians to return to the heart of the gospel he writes:
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
Paul has just spent an entire letter drawing people back to the foundation of the good news of new life in Christ that comes through faith; the gospel. But the goal of this gospel clarity is more than a one-dimensional list of propositional truths, or an academic adherence to religious philosophy—it’s a new way of life. As Paul sees it, when our lives are captured by Christ, we become part of the new creation (c.f. 2 Cor 5:17). The gospel must begin to reshape our lives. And when I observe how Paul teases-out this gospel-shaped life, I notice—much to my surprise—it involves a consistent “do-good” lifestyle.
Some of us (read, “I”) mistakenly associate “good works” with some type of fake Christianity that parades itself in public wearing a thin plastic veneer. Sometimes that has been the case. But it’s wrong of me to throw the baby out with the bath water on this issue.
I need to be reprimanded by the gospel. Paul doesn’t talk about chipping in every now and again. He doesn’t talk about giving a mate a hand once and a while. He tells me I need to be “known for “doing good to everyone, at every opportunity.”
“Let us now grow weary of doing good?” When I take this seriously, I see that I’ve barely begun to do good!
The gospel calls me to empty myself for the sake of others—just as Christ did for us.
It challenges my laid-back Australian cynicism.
For Christ’s sake, I need to be known as a “do-gooder” Christian. We all do. We need to commit to serving each other through good deeds—not to gain the favour of God, but to show the world what Christ has done for us.
This isn’t about saccharine Christianity. This is about the aroma of new life.
This is about a tangible demonstration of the gospel.