“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us.” – C.S. Lewis
Virtue signaling is a thing. It’s a major form of communication on social media, especially Twitter. In our age of high anxiety, where every action and statement is intensely scrutinized by the political correctness police, virtue signaling has become a way of indicating that one is in the “high moral ground camp.” Most virtue signaling is empty. It’s just signaling. The virtue signaler tries to demonstrate they’re on the good side of the political or social debate and that their opponents are bad and ought to be outcast. They’ll take no substantive action to right a wrong or bring healing and hope to the world, other than their signaling, “Look at me! I’m one of the good guys!”
Ash Wednesday brings us back to earth. It can help me see that I’m not one of the good guys. I’m broken like the rest of humanity. My brokenness may express itself in ways that differ from your brokenness, but we’re all broken. We’re like Humpty Dumpty. We’ve fallen and we can’t get up.
Lent, this season of self-examination, is a good time to reflect on the futility of our own efforts to make ourselves appear good. We want to be good so that we can be worthy of God’s love. It doesn’t work that way. We’re not good. We don’t have to be good for God to love us. Like C.S. Lewis said, God can make us good, he can transform us, not based on anything good in us, but based on the goodness of his love.
Jesus came into the world, not to condemn the world, like the Twitter virtue signalers. Instead, Jesus came to save the world by taking the concrete actions of love and sacrifice on behalf of you and me. To receive his love is to admit that I’m not virtuous, but desperately in need of his grace. This Lenten season, reflect on how you need the grace of God and place your life into the loving embrace of Jesus.