There are hard lessons that we cannot avoid and there are hard lessons that persist under the surface waiting to be taken hold of, to be understood and then relearned the next day.
And the next day.
And the day after that.
There are a few things I know, that are at the center of my “web of knowledge” (theory of knowledge buzz term).
In the top five category comes the knowledge that God is good.
Now this is difficult to say, to stand on because many people have trouble with this. In fact for many people tis is the main reason they cannot believe in God because they look at the world and wonder how a good entity could create something so “flawed”.
In fact, though this is a core belief, a core knowledge of mine, I wonder at it a lot of times. When I look at big things like poverty, war, abuse, etc. I wonder how do I reconcile this information with this truth that I know? When I look at my mom, her suffering, my dad’s journey through that, I wonder.
But I know God is good.
How do I know? (I apologize if Whitney Houston’s voice is now coursing through your brain)
How do I know God is good?
Honestly, I know when I see people get excited about something. When someone’s eyes light up because of something deep stirring inside of them. Passion.
Let me explain.
Recently I was discussing with one of my roommates the fatal flaw of socialism: people. Now regardless of your political standing, socialism always sounds great. Different peoples have been attempting Utopia for centuries, where everyone is equal, everyone does their part and we all love in peace and harmony. No poverty. No hunger. People can access opportunities for good health no matter their station. The lesson in History is this: Utopia doesn’t work. People don’t all pull their weight, some people want more, people mess up the system, and before long people begin to try to determine who can stay or who cannot and suddenly we enter dystopia, because suddenly it’s up to one or a few to decide what’s required of everyone. How did they get this power? Who’s standard are we supposed to follow?
People are flawed. That has been agreed upon.
“I’m only human”
So how can a bunch of people make a perfect system?
It’s not possible.
Now, before you think I’m sinking my own case, let me attempt to show the beauty of God.
In the beginning of things (well our beginning) God creates this being that has higher level thinking, they can think beyond urges and instincts. He gives them creativity and the ability to choose their path. Then He tells them the standard. That God made them to work in conjunction with Him. It’s all about this teamwork. So we were designed to run a certain way, this is declared as good. But because He is so intelligent and amazing He gave us the choice, because what kind of relationship would it be without choice.
Let be more clear, working as we are designed to work (namely with Him) anything else is not good. In other terms, bad.
So like day 27 of life (this is not theologically determined, rather given in the metaphorical sense for the purpose of narrative), the early beings working life with God made their first decision that was bad (read: not in their intended design). They thought they could try life on their own, which ended badly for everyone involved (and yet to be involved).
Humans are beings designed to work one way, but incapable of doing so, since this moment.
We are not good.
Our language and culture has watered down the word good to either mean well intentioned or beneficial to someone and it becomes this messy word that has lost its original meaning.
God is good, all that He embodies or characterized by is good, anything else is not.
Growing up my mom used to use a metaphor for truth, “You’re either pregnant or you’re not, there’s no kind of pregnant”. Similarly, as much as we would like, there is no kind of Good, there is or there isn’t.
“Woah, that’s kind of extreme, what about…?”
We could discuss this at nauseum, but at the end of the day that is where the word comes from, what it means. And when you look at people that are “kind of Good”, they’re kind of bad, too. Every well intentioned thought or action that does not stem from direct relationship to God, has selfish motives to it, self serving.
“But isn’t it good to take care of yourself?”
When we aren’t serving the needs of another we are drawing away from each other.
And when you’re honest with yourself, you will see the uncomfortable truth of this concept.
The story of God, written in the Bible, is Him in His goodness trying to get people to be good, restore the! To factory settings. Even those contentious moments are part of the narrative to motivate people to seek Him out, to be in relationship with Him, because that is the greatest Good. From that people can begin to love Him and in conjunction, love those He created.
So, all these terrible things in the world that we have brought upon ourselves by trying to go our own way, can be turned Good by God when we stop trying to fix it on our own, seek Him and move forward in that. Then people will understand Him, the way He meant life to be lived, and then the world begins to heal. It won’t ever be complete by our attempts.
Everyday, I must relearn this hard lesson, either from reflection or repeating mistakes, so that I can give up this false control I think I have over life and trust His control.
Situations may seem dire and I may doubt, but regardless of how I feel, He is good.