Everything in your spiritual life depends on the kind of God you worship. Because the character of the worshiper will always be molded by the character of what he worships: If it is a cruel and revengeful God, the worshiper will be the same, but if it is a loving, tender, forgiving, unselfish God, the worshiper will be transformed slowly, wonderfully, into this likeness.
Hannah Whitall Smith, The Unselfishness of God
I’ve always wondered if this is why people say the church is full of hypocrites. Deep down, we all believe that God is loving, tender, forgiving and unselfish. Yet some of the most ungracious, unforgiving and abrasive people, sadly, belong to the group that call themselves Christian. And the sadder part is, they usually “outshine” those Christians who do reflect the love, tenderness, forgivingness and unselfishness of God.
It’s no wonder people refuse to believe in a good God, if they are willing to believe in a god at all.
A good God, we think, would never allow evil, or pain, or sickness, or crime…death, disappointment. And when they happen, we conclude that God, if there is a god, can’t be good.
Would a good God allow death at birth? What has the baby done that he should die when he was just being born? Would a good God allow a woman to whom people would run for help — financial and otherwise — to be trapped in a fire and die on the bathroom floor?
If God was really good, why Hitler and his horrific holocaust? Or 911? Or AIDS?
I am slowly learning that I do not fully comprehend what goodness is. I think of good as what would be good for me, what would serve me, what would make me happy and not hurt me. What I want, what I need, what I say, what I demand.
And YOU? You are here for my pleasure, my satisfaction, my needs, my wants, my fulfillment.
But is that what good really is? Because I know that if I’m willing to be honest, I’m not really being good to anyone except myself.
And what of God? What is his goodness all about?
Hannah Whitall Smith described him as loving, tender, forgiving, unselfish.
I described selfishness rather accurately, I think, when I described what I thought goodness is. But God is unselfish. That means he doesn’t think of what can please him, but of what can be good for us. Not what we think will make us happy, but what he knows is good for us.
As a christian, I go for the creationist view of life. I believe that we — humans, the earth and the universe — were all created by God himself. But here’s what I’m discovering: the earth was created for man. Before God created man, he created the earth and all that is in it for him to be “god” of: “Have dominion” was the command. And yet it did not mean despotic rule. It spoke of care and responsibility.
And man was created for God, for his presence, for his friendship, for his love.
He created man to receive his love and his gifts, but the fact that he created a different place for man to be in tells me that he is not an in-your-face, worship-me-or-die God. He wants man to choose him.
That was why there were two trees in the middle of the garden: the Tree of Knowledge, and the Tree of Life. The tree of life, obviously, would give life. But the tree of knowledge would bring death.
Man chose death.
Any other god, as man has come up with them, would end the story there: YOU DARE DISOBEY ME?! BOOM! YOU’RE DEAD!!
But God is not made in the image of sinful man (thank you, God!). Instead of killing off the human race, he preserves it, prospers it, progresses it. But he has not strayed from his purpose, that man was made to be with him.
So he redeems him. From animal sacrifices to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. You see, that’s where God is different from other gods. The others must be appeased in case I’ve done wrong. God knows I need to be in his presence even more when I’ve done wrong. So he allows me to temporarily atone for my sin through the blood of an animal, until the proper time came for him to be able to deal with that separation himself.
He came as Jesus and became the final and perfect blood sacrifice for the atonement of ALL sin. All my sin, all the world’s sin, for all time.
Even then, he shows his goodness by allowing us to choose him or reject him. Like I previously said, goodness allows. Evil is the one who will not tolerate and will punish dissension.
God IS good. Not because he gives us what we ask for, or saves us from harm. Any responsible parent knows that not everything the child asks for will be good for him, and that sometimes the best way to learn is the hard way.
God is good because he knows what we truly need, and provides for it when we truly need it. My favorite author, Elisabeth Elliot, wrote something like this: “God supplies all our needs. If it is not supplied, then maybe it is not really needed.”
God Sent Us a Savior
If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator,
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Savior.
God IS good.