The great (or not so great) misunderstanding

Every major religion or ethical system, except one, is based on the premise that you have to do good things to be good. That certainly seems fair.

Christianity, though, is different. Christianity is based on the premise that you can’t possibly do enough good things to be good. Instead, Christians think Jesus made it possible for people to be good without having to do good things.

So the great (or not so great) misunderstanding is this: most people (Christians included) think Christianity is like the other big religions and ethical systems. Most people think Christianity is about doing good things to be good.

I think Christians are partly to blame for this misunderstanding. Christians tell everyone Jesus makes them good without them having to do good things, and people like that (especially people who don’t do a lot of good things), so they become Christians. But once they do, the Christians say, “Okay, now that you’re a Christian, here are all the rules you need to follow.”

  • Don’t do drugs.
  • Don’t gamble.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Don’t curse.
  • Don’t get tattoos.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Don’t hang out with your old friends.
  • Don’t cheat on your tests.
  • Don’t cheat on your taxes.
  • Don’t cheat on your spouse.
  • Don’t get divorced.
  • Don’t listen to that music.
  • Don’t watch those movies.
  • Don’t steal.
  • Don’t stay out so late on Saturday night that you can’t go to church Sunday morning.
  • Don’t vote for that person.
  • Don’t skip voting.
  • Don’t send your kids to that school.
  • Don’t act like you’re smarter than everyone else just because you went to that other school.
  • Don’t try to make a ton of money.
  • Don’t declare bankruptcy.
  • Don’t forget to give money to your church.
  • Don’t wear that bikini.
  • Don’t look at that bikini.
  • Don’t forget to pray before every meal.
  • Don’t ever, ever waste food when poor kids on the other side of the world are starving.

The list gets insanely long super quickly. And people, especially Christians, look down on you if you’re on the wrong side of the line here. I’m like, “What? I thought that’s why I was a Christian in the first place? So I wouldn’t have to worry about all that.” But that’s how a lot of Christians are fueling this misunderstanding.

Thing is, once you’re a Christian, none of that stuff can make you bad. Again, that’s why we’re Christians in the first place… because Jesus made it possible for people to be good without having to do good things.

So while everyone else is struggling to figure out how to do good things (or just giving up altogether), Christians have it easy. Christians are just Christians, and as a result we’re automatically good.

It’s so easy, a caveman could do it… and they have. It’s so easy, it doesn’t even seem fair… but I’ll get into that later.

For now, let’s just clear up this misunderstanding: according to Christianity, Christians don’t have to do good things to be good.