Up to this point, I have been attempting to root out lies we believe about God by showing how they stem from and support and unbiblical view of God’s character. Now that we’ve cleared and the ground and tilled the soil, I’d like to plant some seeds of thought that will not only heal our view of God, but provoke us to greater levels of devotion and maturity as followers of God. There are three main ideas I will present: (1) that God is Good, (2) that God has both the power and desire to heal, and (3) that God desires to work through us to heal. Finally, this section will end with a challenging call from the Apostle James entitled “Faith without works is dead.”
I find myself increasingly drawn to talking about the Goodness of God. I intentionally capitalize “Good” and “Goodness” to differentiate it from our typical usage. In standard parlance, “good” is inferior to “great” which is in turn inferior to numerous other words: “awesome,” “wonderful,” “marvelous.” Biblically speaking, “Good” is the ultimate expression of God’s character. It is all encompassing, never to be surpassed. It is nearly synonymous with “holy.” God’s Goodness is not achievable by mere human beings. It is a word intended to be reserved for special purposes and special lines of thought.
Also, I capitalize “Good” and “Goodness” to remind us that those are terms God defines, not us. There is a philosophical tendency in the human race to try and define God by our own line of thinking, rather than deferring to divine revelation. The most famous example of this is when people object to the idea of Hell – “How could a good God send people to Hell and condemn them to suffering and torment for all eternity?” I have a long answer to that question, but my short answer is, “Because God is the one who determines what is good and bad, right and wrong, not you.” That answer is not personally satisfying to me, but it works for some people. After this series is finished I will post “The Good News About Hell.”
God himself defines Goodness and, for that reason, we must have an authoritative view of the Bible. If God can never shock us, never contradict our understanding of things, never outrage us and never do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves, then we are worshipping an idol, not YHWH. Unless we embrace an authoritative view of Scripture that we are beholden to, we end up with a Stepford god, a robotic projection of ourselves with whom we can never have a personal relationship because such a god because isn’t real. In fact, we find that we are just worshipping ourselves.
God is Good, in all of his majesty and mystery. His Goodness is far beyond anything we can comprehend or imagine. He is far more kind, loving, just, patient, gentle, compassionate, caring and tender than we have words for or capacity to receive. The famous passage of God’s thoughts being higher than our thoughts and his ways higher than our ways is about his Goodness, expressed through mercy, grace, forgiveness and generosity. It is a great passage to study. You’ll find it in Isaiah 55.
There is no downside with God. He is so fantastically Good that everything he asks us to do carries with it abundant blessing in multitudes of ways. Because God simply overflows with Goodness, we find ourselves blessed and rewarded for the simplest acts of obedience. We might find that uncomfortable, but it is something we must ultimately submit to if we are going to please God. The writer of Hebrews tells us that, in order to please God, we must believe he exists AND that he is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him. Living for eternal and temporal rewards is a sign of maturity in God’s Kingdom because it means you are living out of a conviction of God’s Goodness.
God is for us
God even works Good for us through terrible circumstances. I love the passage in Genesis 50:20 where Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God did not make the Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery – that was their choice. But God did work through their choice to bring about his ultimate desire, the preservation of the Messianic seed in Judah and, therefore, the salvation of the human race. And because God is Good, there were tremendous additional benefits: the prospering of Joseph, the reuniting of Joseph’s family and the healing of those relationships, saving the entire nation of Egypt. Just because God worked through the circumstances of Joseph’s life doesn’t mean he caused them. It was the brother’s desire to harm Joseph, but God overruled their plan and enacted one of his own, which ended up rescuing and redeeming Joseph’s brothers as well. We see this same theme in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” What the Enemy intended for evil, God will work for Good, but it is still the Enemy’s intent to steal, kill and destroy – we can’t lay that at God’s feet, especially with sickness and disease.
The Good News of God’s Goodness
It has been my experience that God’s Goodness is often news to people; they’ve never heard that message before. Most people look at God like an abusive boyfriend – there are times of sweetness and tenderness, but you never know when it is going to end and he will be angry and violent, even cruel. I can’t blame them. I cringe every time I see a prominent Christian spokesperson declaring a natural disaster to be “God’s judgment” on a city or place. These people clearly have no idea what they are talking about – they take God’s judgment way too lightly. If God had judged the city it would be cinders and ash, no one would have survived. But every time we say things that that, we further warp the world’s view of God. Calling these natural disasters “acts of God” belittles both his mercy towards sinners and his wrath towards sin. God is not sitting grumpily up in Heaven with a wooden spoon waiting for humanity to mess up so he can whap us on the butt. God isn’t grumpy at all and he laid the wood on Jesus so he wouldn’t have to lay it on you.
God is in a good mood. He loves you, he likes you, he even delights in you. God wants you to grow, change and be transformed into the person he created you to be. Right now, chances are excellent that you are being held back from fully expressing the facet of his character he created you to bear because of sin, sickness or a faulty view of his character. Healing our view of God heals us in turn. As we get greater clarity about who he is, we get greater clarity about who we are.
There is no “bait and switch” with God. He is completely true to himself. What you see is what you get. Truthfully, you’ll get a lot more than what you see, and it is all Good. We will never know God entirely, but we can know him truly. That starts with Jesus.
God in the flesh
Jesus is God incarnate. Everything you need to know about God’s character is manifest in Jesus. We sometimes think God the Father and God the Son play a version of “Good Cop, Bad Cop” where God the Father is the angry, distant, scary one and God the Son is the kind, loving and gentle one. That is completely untrue. Jesus is the direct representation of the Father. Whenever you see Jesus moved with compassion, it is because Father was moved first. Wherever you see Jesus standing up in someone’s defense it is because Father first declared them innocent. Because Jesus had a relationship with God enhanced and facilitated by Holy Spirit, there was no lag time between Father’s feelings and Jesus’s actions or God’s thoughts and Jesus’s words. They were and are One – divine interpenetration allowing them to work as a single unit. That is God’s desire for you by the way.
Everything God asks us to do is for our benefit. Every command carries blessing that may not be immediately apparent. Again, there is no downside with God, no bait and switch and no waiting for the other shoe to drop. If God asks you to quit your job and move to Africa, it is because he wants what is best for you. In some way you can’t comprehend, that job is stealing from you your destiny. That isn’t to say live will be easy – there might be sincere struggle as you follow God’s leading – but you won’t regret it when you stand before him on Judgement Day. Belief in God’s Goodness allows us to trust him completely, even when we don’t understand. In order to live with peace that surpasses understanding we often have to give up our desire to understand before we act.
There is far more to say on this topic than I have space for. My intent with this post is simply to plant the seed of God’s Goodness in your heart so that you can meditate upon it. If ever you find yourself hesitant to obey God or embracing pain, sickness and disease, it is likely that you are believing a lie about who God is and what he wants for you. I highly encourage you to process that with him and/or with someone you trust. Our beliefs about God are the most important things in this world, for they govern every other aspect of our lives. If you have specific questions, I’d love to try and process them with you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the “Comments” section below.
As always, thanks for reading friends.