Doing Good

I'm teaching on the topic of doing good works in the Institute today. So I thought I'd resurrect this post on the subject. I love this stuff!


Christians all agree to some extent that "doing good" is the right thing. What we often disagree on is why.

Some suppose to do good in order to salve their conscience from past sins. Others to perhaps earn favor with God. Still others, really, just because their priest, pastor, or parent told them to.

Of course, none of that will work for me - I've gotta have something more substantial.

Here goes.

Paul, in the context of outlining how the Kingdom is to be cultivated and grown, says:
"According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." - I Corinthians 3:10-15

Notice the phrase "the day will show it". He is speaking eschatologically - referring to "the day of the Lord". The Hebrews had, for hundreds of years, expected a judgment at the end of the age. Christians of course believed the same, and still do. That judgment is what Paul is referring to.

That judgment will eradicate the "wood, hay and straw" work that we've been involved in. Ouch! But think about what he says next.

Those works of ours which are built on the foundation of Jesus (who is the Messiah of the Jews and the King of the Cosmos) will remain.

Put another way, the noble things you do (conceive, create, draw, build, paint, teach, sculpt, write, support, lead) which are built upon the foundation of Jesus' fulfillment of the Messianic expectation and his lordship over the whole world - these things will pass through the judgment to come!

They will remain.

Got that? Let it sink in for a moment.

I can't, of course, predict exactly how this will work. I'm just processing what I read in the OT prophets, in Jesus' own words, in Paul and in Revelation regarding the Kingdom to come. And as I've covered many times here and elsewhere - the Kingdom that's coming is not some fuzzy place on a cloud, or out in space or in some other dimension.

Those fuzzy thoughts would have been laughed off in the first century, and should be in this century as well! Rather, Jesus taught us to pray "Thy Kingdom Come...On Earth!", and that means a real, physical kingdom with a real physical resurrection cranking out real physical bodies that will live forever. Study the Jewish expectations for Messiah and his kingdom, and then read the last few chapters of Revelation if you don't believe me.

And again, the noble work that we do now - the gold, silver and precious stones - will in some sense remain and be represented in that Kingdom. Just the thought of such a thing is overwhelming.

So then, why do I seek to do good works? Just because? Just because my pastor told me to? Just because I feel subconsciously guilty and need a soothing?

Nope, none of that. I seek to do good works so that I may build now what may remain then.

Like most of us, I want to leave a mark - to change the world in some way.

And the Christian story - read rightly - tells me that I can do works, including (conceiving, creating, drawing, building, painting, teaching, sculpting, writing, supporting, leading) that produce (ministries, families, songs, companies, paintings, people groups, architectures) that will remain in the Kingdom to come.

So can you. Yeah, baby!

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