Some Good Theology
One of my favorite movies is The Sound of Music. Between the handsome Christopher Plummer and the perky, immensely talented Julie Andrews—and a sound track filled with some of the best music around—it’s hard not to like it. As a young girl, I particularly enjoyed watching Captain Von Trapp and Sister Maria discover their love for each other and thinking, “Wow! How romantic!”
Here are some of the lyrics she sang to him:
For here you are, standing there, loving me, whether or not you should, so somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good. Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could, so somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.
When I first heard those words they made sense to me. Yes, of course, “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.” So, I reasoned, if I could just be good enough, earn enough Brownie points, get my act together, and do “something good,” then people like Christopher Plummer would certainly sing to me in moonlit gazebos in Austria. Right?
Of course, my problem was that I never seemed to be able to be good enough. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a picture of perfectionistic morality. No, until my salvation at the age of twenty, I was pretty convinced that even though I wanted to be good, I couldn’t. So I purposefully set out to be bad. Looking for self-justification and realizing I would never be able to earn it, I justified my lack of it by being as bad as I could be. Then, God, by His grace—and apart from any good I had done—saved me.
Although Hammerstein’s lyrics sound reasonable, they’re about as anti-Christian as you can get. Consider how Paul contradicts this “something good theology” in Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
The Lord set His love upon me in eternity past and determined to make me His bride. He sang words of love to me and promised that I would be His beautiful, pure wife. He did this for me because He wanted to... not because at some point in my youth or childhood I did anything good. No, it was because all during His youth, childhood, and manhood, He did everything perfectly and then took upon Himself all the wrath I had earned.
I suspect most of you already know these precious truths, but I wonder how many of us live in the light of them on a daily basis. Perhaps you know you’ve been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but now you think everything depends on you earning enough good points for God to keep loving you today. Whenever we begin to think like that, we’re forgetting that we didn’t do anything to earn His love, and we can’t do anything to keep it. He sovereignly sets His love upon His daughters and He never wavers. He’s not Christopher Plummer; He’s the Lord God who delights in His own steadfast love (Jeremiah 9:24).
So...while The Sound of Music is in many ways a really lovely story, let’s remember that there’s really only one good story, and it His story of a love undeserved and unwavering. Thank God.