God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. We say that a lot, passing in hallways and greeting one another but do we really believe it? Last weekend while walking my faithful friend, I was contemplating the goodness of God. Without God, there would be no goodness. Can you imagine a world without anything good?
In the bible, the word good is used a lot, almost a thousand times. This is, in and of itself, quite an interesting factoid…
If you’re like me, we mostly remember the usage of the word-good, when we think of the first book of the bible, Genesis. “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good” (Genesis 1: 4-5). And it was. Light was pleasing and it pleased even God. Yahweh continued creating; the ocean, the earth, fish and birds and these too were good. And just as before, God was pleased. Then comes Gen 1:31 with a twist. God sums up. God declares that the summary of His work is not just ‘good’, but very good. Every small part of His creation was good, but all together; the whole of creation; all the different things working together; it was a bio-ecological wonder and it was very good. Why did God call it very good? Well, I suppose creation was perfect. In the beginning, everything worked together in harmony and completeness. There was no global warming or pollution or trashy waste to muck up the balance of all things. but more than all this, the ‘good’ or ‘goodness’ that God worked in was that His creation completely and absolutely reflected His glory; His majesty; His love for man. God put much love and care-His character really, into making a habitat for us. We still see God’s glory when we look at a sunset or sunrise depending on your circadian clock; purple mountains majesty; the raging ocean waves; a rainbow, etc. As Followers of Christ, we are called to reflect that same image-God’s glory. But how? How does one be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16) and reflect His image?
You probably won’t believe it, but a book was placed in my path as I was chewing on this thought. How great is that? So I read it. It was an easy read. It only took about four hours and it gave insight and focus to my quandary which is true holiness, God’s reflection. The name? Sorry. The book is called, This Little Light of Mine: A Journey into Missional Living by Jay Moore. In it, we are challenged to embody, Matthew 5: 14-16, “you are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” and 1 Peter 2: 11-12, “good deeds glorify God”. These concepts are right and true and once written, sound good on paper, yet actually doing them effectively is quite hard. There are, maybe a million books written about this topic. Moreover, a million more could be written according to John 21: 25. However, I do remember one particular bullet from that book that precludes us from effectively reflecting God and I was deeply touched by Mr. Moore’s words. He encourages us to remember that, “Peter pleads with and urges Christ’s followers to abstain from the sinful desires of the world… failure to stay pure and live holy lives will result in lost people not seeing our Light”. In the book, Followers who do not stay pure are compared to a “storm lamp that has its glass covered with soot and dirt… It doesn’t matter how bright the candle is glowing inside, no one can see its brightness. So it is with Christians, whose lives are filled with moral filth and rebellion against God. No one is able to see the brightness of Christ’s Light because of the sinful immorality that blocks it.”
Maybe this is you? It certainly was me. It is easy to get dirty and distracted. But good news for us. God is in the glass cleaning business. Only God can clean it. We cannot clean up ourselves. When we try to do it, we just end up with soot all over and a bigger mess. “Praise God we have His promise in 1 John 1: 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.
You may have heard the statement, “this is a come to Jesus moment” well, in this sense, it is, truly. Christ, God in flesh can take our efforts to ‘do it ourselves’, our willful rebellion and cleanse us completely so that once again, God’s goodness can be illuminated in that city on a dark hill.
I do want to mention one more idea from the book that is very notable. Christ Followers do have a need to learn the art of giving God the glory when we ‘do good deeds’. This is absolutely crucial. We do love to do good deeds. Why? Because it is addictive. Going on mission trip after mission trip or feeding homeless, hungry people at home or again is some faraway place is definitely a mountaintop experience. It feels good to temporarily sacrifice and work ourselves out for a ‘good’ cause. It is a fix- an adrenalin rush. A dangerous fix that can be far worse than heroine or meth, because the addiction looks oh, so good and noble from the outside. We rationalize and tell ourselves we are helping others, it can’t be wrong and yet, it is. When we take the credit-get the glory, God doesn’t and the people we are trying to help can’t be transformed. God has been removed from the equation. Only God can change a life. When we play at being God, we only bring temporary comfort at best. In the book, we are encouraged to move beyond self-gratification towards maturity purity-God’s true reflection. I won’t tell you how we can be freed from this because you should really pick up the book and read it, for yourself. Well, I’ve already said too much… I will leave you here for today and say in closing, Happy Reading to you!