"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Who's a good apple?

Photo by Thammie Cascales on Unsplash

This is usually how it goes when I read blogs. One article leads to another, and that one leads to a different blog, and that one to yet another. And so it continues, this spiderweb of interconnected blogs. I do enjoy discovering new blogs in this way. Sometimes it can consume hours, if I let it.

Following this process, as I often do, I stumbled across a blog quite a while ago that was quite clever, a bit funny, a bit thought-provoking, a bit political, but a bit assumptive. A lot assumptive actually; many of the assumptions were HUGE, and couching them in humourous terms didn't make them any less assumptive, jus' sayin'.......

The Apple Game
I read a few posts, linked to a few more, and then I came across one called "The Apple Game: How Good a Person are You?" Straight away I was intrigued by where the writer might be going with this one. Curious about what he might have to say. Not because I was hoping to discover what a good person I am, but because, actually, I already know what a good person I am NOT!

This apple game (or exercise really) addresses the question "Are you a good person" in a very simplistic manner, by using the analogy of an apple - skin, flesh, core.

Skin = how you come off to people at first.
Flesh = how you are once people get to know you.
Core = how you are deep down.

The end result is an individualised "apple profile". There are 8 different possibilities based on the answers to various questions, with options ranging from "good-good-good" through "bad-good-bad" and all the way to "bad-bad-bad". The author describes these profiles as "a quick sizing up of [the person's] goodness through and through".

Okay, kind of makes sense, clever analogy. A bit flaky on the end result though - is it possible, for example, to have "bad skin", "bad flesh" but be "good" at the very core, the very source of everything else??

Fundamental flaw
I read it again. It was hard to know just how "tongue in cheek" the author was being, or whether he really believed in the validity or broad application of his exercise. I had a bit more of a think about it. And then I read it to my husband, and we talked about it at length while we cooked dinner. And basically, we agreed that while it's a fun read, light-hearted and probably mainly tongue-in-cheek, the whole premise is fundamentally flawed.


The flawed fundamental premise, of course, is that there is such a thing as a GOOD CORE.


I know, you might not agree with me. And this is where our worldviews may collide. My Christian worldview says I am (and we all are) inherently sinful, inherently flawed, inherently broken, rebels since birth, enemies of God. Since "the fall" (Genesis 3) sin is in my DNA, my core, it indwells me, and basically I am incapable, in and of myself, of being "good". I may strive, but ultimately I will fail to reach what is in essence an unattainable goal, when relying on my own (ahem) "goodness".

When I look around at the world in which I live - and when I look honestly at myself - I know it's true.

To whom should I compare?
It's so very tempting to think that while I might, at times (but hopefully not too often) act in selfish ways, or get grumpy or easily irritated, basically, at my core, I'm actually not that bad. Not as bad as some others anyway. It's just so tempting to think this way. I've never murdered anyone, for example. I don't take illicit drugs or drink to excess. I don't steal. I'm not deliberately rude or inconsiderate or nasty. I say "please" and "thank you". I don't cheat on my tax. I give to those less fortunate. I recycle and compost. I'm kind to animals. I try not to exceed the speed limit or otherwise drive dangerously and my "road rage" is only ever very mild indignation after all. I help the elderly reach the high shelves in the supermarket. I make guests feel welcome in my home. I smile at check-out operators.

But thinking this way gets me into trouble. Because I have to somehow compare myself in order to come to the conclusion that I'm "not THAT bad". And to whom should I compare? Because there will always be someone "gooder" than me. And "badder" (hopefully). So as soon as I start to think that I'm basically "good", the obvious next question is "What (or who) is the yardstick?" and then the next obvious one (to me at least) is "And am I good enough??"

Of course, then I have to ask "Good enough for what?" What actually is the "goodness goal"? And who determines "good" and "bad" anyway?

See how complicated it gets!!!

A matter of degrees
If I'm actually not fundamentally good, if there really is, in human terms, no such thing, then all I'm left with is various degrees of "rotten" from core through flesh to skin.

Image by David Cardinez from Pixabay

In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul says it like this:
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. (Romans 3:10 - 12)

And this:
............ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God......... (Romans 3:23)

The Got Questions team described it succinctly:
........ sin affects all areas of my being, including who I am and what I do, and penetrates to the very core of my being so that everything is tainted by sin, and ".... all [my] righteous acts are like filthy rags before a holy God" (Isaiah 64:6).

And as the late R.C. Sproul puts it, "We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners."

It's all a bit hard to swallow really.

The deceitful human heart
Matt Smethurst, writing on The Gospel Coalition website, has this to say about the unpalatable and counter-cultural topic of sin:
Sin in the late-modern West is not grieved. It's not deplored. It's not even merely tolerated. It is celebrated. Our society doesn't mourn sin; it mourns those who mourn sin.

I know this too well. There was a time when an article like "The Apple Game" would not have bothered me at all. I probably would have enjoyed it as a light-hearted, slightly amusing read. Agreed with it even. But not these days. Nowadays it disturbs me when I see (or read) the many ways that we humans (me included) deceive ourselves into thinking we're not that bad, we're actually okay, we don't need rescuing, don't need a Saviour.

The fact is, as I've discovered, nothing could be further from the truth.

But the good news
There is good news, though, for me (and sinners like me). When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price for my sin and gave me his righteousness so I can be with him forever.

God is in the business of sanctification - making all things new - and nobody is "too bad" (or considers him/herself too "good") to be beyond the reach of God's sanctifying grace and mercy. He wants to make me holy. He is in the business of changing my rotten core.

Without God - and Jesus' saving work on the cross - I am doomed. My rotten core - my sinful heart - makes sure of it. I need a Saviour. I cannot save myself by striving to be "good enough". I will never make it. There is just no way to put on "good" flesh and "good" skin to disguise the core within.

No, the apple analogy is simply flawed; there are no good-enough apples in the barrel.

NOTE: The lack of links to the referenced blog is deliberate. If you're keen, I'm sure you can find it yourself. But read with as much caution and discernment as you can muster.

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