His Goodness Wins
A couple of weeks ago I spoke about “Who is a Good Person?”. In that message, I used the story of Chris Kyle, the subject of the book and movie American Sniper. Chris Kyle is credited with 160 kills in his four tours of duty in the Middle East. He was killed after he left the service, by a veteran he was trying to help.
In the message I posed the question, “Was Chris Kyle a good person?”. I didn’t answer the question.
In the rest of the message, I shared the teaching of Jesus: “You have heard it said, ‘Do not murder.’ But I say to you anyone who is angry will be subject to judgment.” Jesus shares seven more teachings, telling us that acting good is not the same as being good.
Was Chris Kyle a good person? No. Neither are you. I am not a good person. “There is no one who does good; no, not one (Proverbs 14:1).” Being a hero, being an American, or even being a pastor doesn’t make you a good person.
After that message, a man came up to me with a true burden. He had called in airstrikes that resulted in the deaths of both the guilty and the innocent. Another man talked to me about being embedded in Afghanistan facing life and death choices to kill or be killed. Another person told me about their struggle with PTSD and the guilt they live with.
God understands war. He understands the ambiguity of combat. He understands in battle both the guilty and the innocent die. The record of the wars in the Old Testament at the very least gives us the promise that God understands how the brokenness of this world explodes into war. God himself has been part of the epic struggle between good and evil since the conflict began.
Take seriously Revelation 19 and the description of the last great epic battle, when Jesus is mounted on horseback and charges against the forces of evil. This great war will end and Jesus – the perfect one – will win.
To all of you who have known and grappled with the horrors of war, the goodness of your soul comes not from your execution of orders. The goodness of your soul comes because your heart is changed by Jesus. There is grace, great grace that covers all you have seen, all you have done, and all that haunts your soul.
None of us are good. Only Jesus. His goodness, however, is so pure, so powerful, it fills all the gaps.
Let His goodness change your heart.