The world is full of good people. They are generous with their resources. They help old ladies cross the streets safely. They pay their taxes. They mow the neighbour's grass and shovel out his driveway. They look after their families and their pets. They try not to run over the crossing guards in school zones. They don't hoard toilet paper during the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure there is enough for everyone.
And then Paul comes along and tells us this: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one…There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-12, 18)
Apparently, being good, aka righteous, is not a matter of what we do, or don't do. A good person is one who "seeks God", whose life is lived in submission to Him that grows out of "…fear of God".
I am currently reading Revelation as part of my daily meditations in Scripture. Frankly, I am not sure if this is a bad time to be reading that particular book, or a good time to doing so. Every time "plague" and the "wrath of God" is mentioned—which is fairly frequently—I feel a little twinge. The thought of God's judgment to come is scary—the relatively minor warnings coming in our present age should cause us at least a brief pause. It's a "pay attention, this is the Almighty speaking" moment.
It is at times like these that we are reminded just how little control we have. We like to think we are smarter, better, greater, than anything or anyone. Then a natural disaster strikes, or a disease threatens, and we are forced to face the unchanging truth that we aren't so smart, so good, or so great as we'd like to think. And though we admit it or not, we pray that there is Someone is smarter, better, and greater, Who is able to respond to our plea for help. And the One who controls it all IS speaking, and we dare not ignore the message. That message is simple: Seek Him.
Later, in Romans 4, Paul will use Abraham as an example as what we need to seek Him for. "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness…Blessed are those who transgressions are forgiven, who sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.'"
Will being forgiven, will being declared righteous based on our faith in Christ, save us from another 9/11 or COVID-19? True faith in God is not, as the saying goes, "fire insurance", it is "life insurance". True faith begins with an acknowledgment that I am a sinner in need of Christ's forgiveness; moves to repentance and a plea for the forgiveness and righteousness that only He can give; counts on His grace, that undeserved favour that results in His forgiveness; then roots itself in a commitment to follow Him whatever happens in life.
That's good—the good that only faith in Christ can produce.