I grew up in church. My Dad was a pastor and a brilliant Bible preacher/teacher. He was a man who knew he was flawed and he taught me about God’s Grace. I am so thankful for my parents lives and examples. However…
From the Church in general I received two conflicting messages. One message is that God has saved me by his precious shed blood, death and resurrection through Jesus. That God has redeemed me. The other and opposite message is that in my sin I could ultimately be disappointing to God and somehow left outside of his love.
This left me with a heart shredded in doubt, and lack of trust. I didn’t really know if God is good or angry.
The writer Hud McWilliams says it this way, “if we accept that God exists but we can’t embrace his goodness as an “absolute” then we will remain stuck developmentally. If we believer there is a God and we need to be in relationship with him, yet because he is a mystery and Old Testament stories often portray him as violent, we are left with the grinding puzzlement over just how he can be trusted, instead of the basis for living with the God-being who is pure love and kindness, we are afraid of messing up and being punished. This is the deadly mixture of good with enough distortion that we lose the ability to access the freeing power of TRUTH. God does not change; we simply have twisted messages so that we are no longer getting at the truth.”
Our behavior, for me anyway, became the litmus test of my Christianity. Did I read my Bible and pray everyday? Did I join the choir? Did I attend enough church to be “all in?” These “works” were somehow to appease an angry God? All of this left me believing that God is not “absolutely” good but my story does not end here…
I found that God does not play games with me. His love is not based on human performance. The question of God’s goodness gets to the core of “how we think about Him.” If we want to talk about God and his goodness and love, we have to start with Jesus.
Jesus is the complete understanding of God in all of his fullness! Jesus taught that he was God. Contrary to today’s post-modern Pluralism we don’t get to decide what Truth is. We are not arbiters of truth. God’s goodness is not based on our personal views and thoughts. Jesus recognized no such basis for truth. He in fact states multiple times in scripture “I am the Truth.”
Jesus also said and the Apostle John affirmed in all of his writings that He (John and many more people) were “eye witnesses” that “God is love, Jesus is the light of the world, and that there is NO darkness in him at all.”
So, I found my answer in the relationship He (Jesus) invited me and invites you into with himself and God the Father and God the Spirit. God in not against us. He invites us to joy without distortion. God has nothing to do with evil. He does not cause evil he redeems it. His Holiness and love only exalts his goodness. His righteousness cannot diminish because of evil. His goodness always overcomes!
God’s absolute goodness gives me permission to be human and he has shown nothing but grace and mercy toward my human state. The Good God that I now trust completely has allowed me to understand my guilt of sin and relieves me of my toxic shame. This goodness is found in the midst of illness, job loss, divorce, loss of love or loss of a loved one. In the midst of suffering his Goodness never changes. His goodness is the source of life and joy.
God forgives us not because we “do” something nor does he ever withhold his forgiveness. His goodness toward us exists because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That is the truth. Truth is a person. His name is Jesus. He is the good shepherd who will always go after the one stray sheep among the ninety-nine.
I invite you to join me in the fullness of Joy in God’s goodness without distortion. Truth stands alone but He welcomes all who will believe.
to read more of Hud McWilliams get his book… “Discipline of Disturbance (Stop waiting for Life to Be Easy)!!!