Thursday, September 9, 2021

For the Lord is good. . .

Although we Christians tend to busy ourselves with proving all sorts of things to a skeptical world -- from creation's Biblical timeline to God incarnate in the Virgin to the atonement to life after death -- all of these are corollaries of the thing hardest to believe -- the Lord is good.  Only faith can take that statement at face value and believe it in spite of all around us that begs to differ.

I have had people who wanted to believe six days but who found evolution far too compelling and logical.  It was always curious to me how hard it is to believe that God made all things as He has said but somehow easier to believe that God entered the womb of a Virgin to save and redeem sinners from sin and death by the blood of this Son of God.  But that is sort of like arguing over what food you find most distasteful.  What offends us most of all is the goodness of the Lord our God.  That is what sin stole from us -- not simply the ability to know God but to know the goodness of the Lord.  That is what only faith can restore to us mortals until heaven reveals this goodness once and forevermore.

In Mark 10:18, Jesus connects the dots for us.  The goodness of the Lord is the very definition of God and to apply this goodness to Jesus is to confess that He is God.  "And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone." From prophets to the Psalmist, the central affirmation of God is that He is good.  The call of the Psalmist makes this pointed -- "O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever."  Goodness and mercy are intertwined -- different sides of the same thing.  This is who God and no other.  Goodness and forgiveness.  Goodness and kindness.  Goodness and provision (food, shelter, etc.).  Goodness and patience.  Goodness and hope.  Worship acknowledges first and foremost the goodness of the Lord.

We think that the central and basic thrust of faith is to believe in what God does but it is really about who God is.  The most central and radical concept of Scriptures is that God is good.  Scripture repeatedly connects this goodness to mercy, generosity, compassion, love, and redemption.  It was goodness that was the judgment of His creation and it was goodness that became His creation's redemption.  The Bible repeatedly presents us with the goodness of the Lord and it is this that is the first and most basic affirmation of faith, under the guidance of the Spirit.

In Christian life we affirm this goodness in spite of what happens to us.  When tragedy or disaster strikes, we say the Lord is good.  When trouble befalls us and life is threatened, we say the Lord is good.  When death claims us, we say the Lord is good.  We are not simply muttering a perfunctory statement but affirming our trust in this goodness -- goodness we do not now see or know but goodness that is our hope and our salvation.

This is what the Gospel shows us -- the goodness of the Lord who gives to the unworthy and undeserving what is His most precious treasure and raising us from sin and its death bestowing upon us what none of us dare dream.  This is the goodness of the Lord that is our confession before the world and this is the goodness that is our hope and foundation for every change and chance of life.

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