Wednesday, September 5, 2007

For September 9, 2007 - A Good God

What does it mean to say that “God is good” – what is good about God? In Genesis 18 we find this rhetorical question:
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Though we affirm “God is good,” it is one of the hardest truths to understand over the course of our lifetimes. Since the things that happen to us are not consistently wonderful – and may be thoroughly rotten - we have a hard time accepting that God is good.

Genesis 18 presents the story of God’s destruction of Sodom for their sin. God ponders, “Should I tell Abe what I’m about to do?” This action of revealing his plans is, in itself, striking. Letting us in on his purposes is no small thing. But what Ab does is equally surprising. He tries to talk God out of his terrifying plan on the basis of the innocent who will suffer too. Here we come across a truth that makes our cut and dried conceptions of God go limp: God often seems to be perplexed in his thoughts and actions. He turns and bends his plans – or at least it seems that way to us. Here in Genesis, he wants to wipe out the darkness he sees in Sodom, but he listens to the cry of his chosen servant, Abraham, who pleads with him to spare the city. Is Abraham’s sense of justice greater than God’s?

God is, in some ways, like us – or we like him. He agonizes over decisions. He listens to other ideas. Shockingly, he has regrets and wishes he had done things differently (Genesis 6:6). But he is good – how?
From our perspective, it is sometimes hard to see God’s goodness. Terrible things happen, judgments, troubles, hard times – and all of our Christian platitudes don’t get us very far. We quote Romans 8 saying, ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We hang onto that as our spiritual lifeboat, but our faith can feel like it’s taking on water fast. What then? How can we trust in God’s goodness? - Curtis