Today in the New York Times Online, columnist David Brooks invited readers to post essays on the formation of good character. I posted the following.
Does believing the Gospel produce good character? If so, how?
I believe it does, but not in the way most people, even most Christians perhaps, might suppose.
It’s not by personal effort, that much is clear; for the Bible teaches that salvation is a gift of grace, received with the empty hands of faith.
The truth of the Gospel, when it is believed, produces a complete reorientation of the mind and will, just by virtue of its being true and by its being believed to be true. Whereas the unbeliever is uncertain whether there is meaning or purpose to the cosmos or to his or her life, the believer now realizes not only that there is tremendous meaning to life, but that we now have the freedom to embody that meaning in everything we do.
The Gospel shows us that our longing for truth, justice, and peace are destined to be fulfilled, and that by being truthful, just, and kind we are participating already in that wonderful Age to come. It shows us that there is no act of kindness which goes unnoticed by the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.