"Good People" Can Kill

by Joe McKeever

When a New Orleans doctor and two nurses were charged with euthanizing several critically ill hospital patients after Hurricane Katrina, many supporters rushed to the doctor's defense, with accounts of how caring she was.

As a minister of the gospel, I find myself intrigued by the defenders of the accused using such rationales as "such a fine person, she could not do such a thing," "a genuinely good person" and "devoted to her patients." All of which I feel confident is true.

But there is a problem.

The best of us are still capable of doing wrong things. Spend a little time inside the penitentiaries of this land and you will meet some of the finest people on the planet. This convict was a minister, that one a loving grandmother, over there a fine father who was devoted to his children. But they got caught up in something-an addiction, a depression, something. When they loved their families and helped their neighbors, they were being true to themselves. They were not play-acting. When they started on that downward spiral of sinful acts that eventually sent them to prison, they were also being true to who they were. Because they are sinners.

I am; you are. "All have sinned," Scripture says. We are sinners by nature and sinners by choice. Heredity and environment, nature and nurture-cut it any way you please, it still comes up that there is a rottenness in the soul of all of us.

I heard of a seminary professor who once was invited by a former student to come to his little west Texas town for a revival meeting. "While you are here," the pastor said, "I want you to visit Mr. Crenshaw. He's an older gentleman whom we've never been able to reach with the gospel. The fact is, he's such a highly principled man, he probably has higher standards than our people, and that's been a hang-up."

The visiting professor assured the pastor he would be glad to talk with anyone he chose. The revival started on Sunday morning and that day at least four or five people told the professor about Mr. Crenshaw, emphasizing what high moral values he held. Two people said the same on Monday. That afternoon, the pastor decided it was time for that visit.

Mr. Crenshaw welcomed the pastor and visiting revival preacher in his home, and offered them glasses of iced tea. After some preliminary visiting, the young pastor said, "Mr. Crenshaw, I wanted my professor to meet you and to talk with you about the Lord. Now, Mr. Crenshaw, I know you are a good man." Suddenly, the professor said, "Hold it!"

He looked at his host and said, "You know, Crenshaw, ever since I've been in this town, I've been hearing people telling me what a good man you are. And I just want you to know I'm not buying it." He paused, leaned forward, and said, "You know, sir, if you are a man like I'm a man you're as rotten as hell."

Mr. Crenshaw smiled and said, "You're right. I am." What followed was a serious conversation about a Savior who welcomes sinners and has the power to forgive them and make them new persons. That day, Mr. Crenshaw came into the Kingdom of God through faith in Christ.

"There is none good, but God alone." We have that authoritative word from the Lord Himself, spoken to a man whom we identify as the "rich young ruler."

Trouble is, we don't really believe it. Whether it's naiveté on our part or simply ignorance of human nature or an unwillingness to believe Scripture, we endow certain dedicated and wonderful human beings in our spheres with attributes they do not possess. Our doctors could not euthanize an elderly patient. Yet doctors perform abortions every day. Parents are so dedicated, teachers are so self-giving, pastors are so godly. Yet some in these categories are arrested somewhere every day for abusing little children or embezzling funds or selling drugs.

And yet, I say to you that so many of these perpetrators were basically and humanly speaking, good people. Good people who did some truly horrendous things.

The tendency of most people is to read about them in the paper or see them on the news and conclude that they must have been devils all along.

A woman who had spent time in a German concentration camp traveled to Israel for the trial of Adolf Eichmann during the 1970s. Eichmann had been responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews and others in these death factories. After decades of running, he was finally on trial for his crimes. Later, the woman recounted what she experienced: "As Eichmann was brought into the courtroom, I began to cry. Looking at him there, I did not see a demon. He was not the devil incarnate. He was just a little man, ordinary in every way. That's when it occurred to me that if such an ordinary little man could do such evil things, any of us is capable of anything. And that's why I was crying. I was crying because I was seeing myself for the sinner that I am."

Believers know there is indeed a Savior. Only one. Only Jesus.

I can't find where the Bible says Christ saves us from ourselves in so many words. But that may be the biggest need of all. Thank God He does.

That's why we need to love one another and pray for each other. What we must never do is expect ourselves or anyone else to be incapable of sin, even that of the worst sort.

We are in such need of a Savior.

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