A young fellow college student recently told me her whole life story. Growing up she was very sheltered as her parents tried to raise her to be a “good girl”. She went to private Catholic school and up until high school, she was successfully protected from anything dangerous. Nobody was ever mean to her and she was never faced with much pain. She believed everyone was good at heart and had no reason to believe otherwise.
Her parents were probably proud of the fact that they churned out a good one. She stayed out of trouble and didn’t complain much (which is surprising because nowadays she’s quite the complainer).
What the parents couldn’t see, but should have known, is that deep down, nobody is inherently “good”. Even if there were good people out there, there would be no way to remain perfectly good forever. No matter what we try our hearts will always be imperfect, containing many flaws.
Some people believe that by acting good, and doing good things that that somehow raises you above others, or at least makes you a “good person”.
In the first century, and maybe even still today in some places, Jews would come to popular places to wash themselves of the dirty people they came in contact with. There were jars specifically designated for these washings. Each containing 20-30 gallons of water each.
It was jars such as these that Jesus Christ had filled with water, and then turned into wine (John 2:1-10). He used this wine to silently serve the wedding they were at, providing them with top-shelf wine at their time of need (they ran out). But with this kind gesture, he was trying to teach a lesson as well. Not only to the people that saw what happened, including his disciples, but to us today.
Jesus turned somewhere around 175 gallons of water into wine. That is an amazing amount of wine, especially if you consider that a regular bottle of wine is somewhere around a tenth of a gallon. So while Jesus served upwards of around 1500 bottles of wine, he also showed us that real change comes from the inside, out. We can come and try and look good by cleaning up in front of other people. Or we can have a complete transformation of our very being.
Its not about looking good or acting good. Its not about living up to some standards. Its not about doing what we are “supposed to do” and making sure people see. No, its simply about making changes that start with the heart. It’s about relying on the Holy Spirit to make those changes for us.
We cannot do it on our own.