If you have spent any time at all attempting to give the gospel to a lost and dying world, you've undoubtedly heard people say, "I'm going to heaven. I'm a good person." When you ask them why, they let you know (often arrogantly) that they've never killed anybody, they don't steal, and they help people in need. After the common response, we often ask people "You say you're good? Compared to what standard?" In other words, how does someone come up with what they consider to be "good." When you ask that, you get that "you're kidding, right?" look. Nope. We're not.
A year or so ago, some friends and I were at the beach celebrating another friend's birthday. It was a bunch of girls having a good time. We were boogie boarding, swimming in the ocean. Just plain enjoying ourselves. Well, when we went swimming in the ocean, we got too far out because of the current. All of us were frightened, worried that we were going to drown before we could reach the shore. Well, one of us would find a place where we could stand, and everyone would head for that location. Once again, due to the current, we would reach the girl who was standing and she would have drifted to another deep spot. We could not find the shallow place because our point of reference kept moving. If we'd had some buoy anchored in the shallow water, we would have had no problems. We could swim to the buoy and know that's right where we needed to stand. But, because our reference was moving, we couldn't find it.
The Bible is like the anchored buoy. It gives us definite standard of goodness. You do this, you don't do that. Let's make sure we're using the reference that we have in our lives. Is what you're doing aligned with the Bible? Are you living up to its standards? We're all going to fall short, but we need to be giving it our best shot! On the streets, use the Bible to show people the standard needed for heaven: perfection. Then show them how Jesus came so that we might have righteousness through him!
Bro. James gave this same illustration this morning with his own story (about trying to catch a shark :). I can't claim to have come up with this on my own. I simply happened to have a story that went along with it.
photo from www.freefoto.com