I drove up to the Olive Garden the other day and saw a car with some interesting bumper stickers plastered on it. One of them read, “You are a good person.” That was all. A simple statement that leapt deep into the philosophical and theological pit of complexity. As I stood there and creepily took a picture of someone’s bumper, I asked myself what that person was like and what that person was trying to communicate through that bumper sticker. A bumper sticker is designed for all to read. So did that driver believe that every single human being was good, even the psychotic serial killers? Just a question.
In class we talked about the nature of people and what an “ideal” person looks like, if that can even be defined. There seems to be a presumption that there is an “ideal” person, the entire purpose of counseling. Many of the books that we have read for this class, such as Jay Adams’ book, show that people have a sin nature that creates the problems of life, the problems that lead people to counseling. If this is true, if people have a sin problem, then they are certainly not good.
Jesus says, in Luke 18:19, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone.” Here Jesus communicates the fact that only God is good and no human has or will ever come close to being good, except for Jesus Himself. Romans 3:10-12 reiterate the same fact in saying, “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.” We are not good and we do not do good.
Why this driver has this bumper sticker, I do not know. Wishful thinking perhaps? Optimism? Idealism? One quick look at the world will shatter the words of the bumper sticker. People are not good apart from God. We are sinful, helpless people who are desperate for a good God. Our sin produces problems in life. And we are working toward an “ideal” for the simple fact that we are not already there, and we are not already good.