Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey claims to have found indisputable evidence for evolution. I read about his discoveries in Maine’s Bangor Daily News with equal amounts of skepticism and curiosity, but it was his comments on faith that truly dismayed me.

Espousing no animosity toward religion, Leakey said, “If you tell me, well, people really need a faith … I understand that. I see no reason why you shouldn’t go through your life thinking if you’re a good citizen, you’ll get a better future in the afterlife ….”

What? Good citizenship leads to a better afterlife? Seems like someone’s missing a link.

It was the second time this week I’d read about someone confusing personal goodness with redemption. The other was in an article on faith in the same paper in which the Rev. Steven Lewis, academic dean of Bangor Theological Seminary, said, “Salvation in the 21st century is being a good human being.”

Yikes! Scripture emphasizes the importance of seeking justice, obeying God, and sharing His love with others, but nowhere does it say that by doing this I can ever earn salvation.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9.

Do I seek to live a “good” life? Absolutely! But the primary benefit is to bless those around me and to protect myself from the catastrophic consequences of wrong choices. It has nothing to do with securing a Lazy Boy in the afterlife.

When my children were little, I’d often catch them imitating me–and not just the good stuff. They weren’t trying to earn a reward. They simply spent a lot of time with me and naturally copied what they saw. In the same way, the more time I spend with Christ–reading the Word, praying, and hanging out with others who love Him–the more my life will imitate Him who “went around doing good” Acts 10:38.

And the rest? Well, that’s why I need Him.

What about you? Tired of trying to “be good?”