Can a non-Christian do good things?
It seems to be the conclusion in a recent on-line op-ed that kids raised by parents who don’t go to church actually turn out better, “We don’t need Bible verses to tell our children how to be good or nice or kind, or how to give back to others, to help those less fortunate, to accept people who are different from them. When you tell your kid that you’re on earth for as long as you’re on earth, and no one really knows what happens after, it can be liberating. It can be simple to explain that the most important thing you can do with the time you’ve got is make it count, and try to leave things better than you found them.”
I don’t disagree that we should teach our children these things as they help us to live in community with others. I also admit that some of the most wonderful, caring, giving people I know are non-Christians, yet others who I know who attend church regularly and read their Bible often also cheat on their spouses, offer emotional and verbal abuse in marriages, never can hold a job, and don’t pay all their taxes.
So it appears that the dividing line is not religion when it comes to telling if a person is “good” or not.
After almost ten years of close observation after cancer and a divorce, I’d like to suggest an alternative conclusion: most people give to others when things are relatively good in their life, but when tragedy strikes, they are resentful, blame others, seek revenge, and become destructive in their relationships.
The tragedy may be cancer, divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, the birth of a handicapped child, the death of a child, or the suicide of a friend. It is when we are brought to our knees that we decide if we are still willing to be a “good person”, or whether we must rely on God to get us through.
Tragedy becomes the true dividing line between those who know God and those who are just nice people.
It is “disciples” who face adversity with the assurance that God never forsakes us. Even when our life is less than perfect, we are still called to love others, not because we want to be “nice”, but because God has asked us to.
Blessings, my friend,