Friday, July 20, 2018

People of Good will. . .

Glory be to God on high and on earth peace, good will toward men. . . So we sang in the Gloria in Excelsis when I was growing up.  It changed a bit.  Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.  The idea of goodwill got lost in the new translation.  I am quite sad about that.  But the King James eloquence has given way to a desire for modern speech and simple language.  Some other translations have kept the goodwill part but kind of butchered its meaning.  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.  Or another Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased,

Good will has come to mean tolerance and acceptance.  People of good will overlook things that irritate them and concentrate on the bigger picture.  People of good will do not judge and so they are not subject to unkind judgments.  People of good will smile all the time and keep their mouths shut when things are said or done to which they cannot agree.  Not.  That is NOT good will at all.  God does not tolerate our sin or accept our evil.  He does not set aside His judgment.  He does not concentrate on bigger issues and.  He does not turn the other way when words are said or actions are done that offend Him.  He does not set aside His judgment.  His good will is not a shrug of the shoulders but the Incarnate Lord Jesus who has come to take our place in judgment, the innocent for the guilty.  His good will is that the sins for which we should be punished have been paid for by One who has no debt to sin -- our Lord Jesus.  His good will is that He has shown mercy by becoming His people's Savior and redeeming us sinners who are unworthy of His gracious favor.  His good will does not set aside His judgment but places that judgment on Him who alone is righteous.

The Church must be an agent of God's good will and not simply an echo of the world's flawed and failed idea of compassion.  The Church's calling is to continue to be formed by this good will into the new people we could not be by Him who has become our Savior.  The Church's mission is to tell of this good will to a world in denial with respect to sin and at peace with death.  The Church's purpose is to raise up hope where hope does not dwell by means of the faithful story of Christ crucified and risen and the works of love that will flow from those who hear and believe it.

Too often churches who stick with the script of God's Word are labelled judgmental and narrow and self-righteous and hypocrites.  Those churches who have abandoned God's Word and reduced it to a principle of love that accepts without judgment and tolerates without values are considered people of good will.  The only good religion in the world is one that is skeptical of its truths and flexible in its doctrine in order to be tolerant and accepting of all.  This is the great lie of good will.  There is no good will in refraining from telling the dying that he or she is close to death.  There is no good will in smiling while people pass their lives away soon to marked for judgment and death.  There is no good will in lumping all truth together and giving the individual the right to decide which truth fits him or her best.  There is no good will in making God a footnote to the lives in which He is the prime actor to save and redeem.  Good will demands that we call the world to repentance even as we seek to live in daily repentance by the power of the Spirit.  Good will demands that there is one name under heaven and on earth by which any and all who will be saved, shall be saved.

By all means let us be people of good will who bring God's good and gracious and saving will in Christ to all who do not yet know it.  But never let us reject the Word of Life because somebody somewhere will say we are unloving, unkind, or intolerant.

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