Thursday, December 1, 2016


If God is not good, but simply is, then He becomes all of the things that we need Him to be - a constant in a constantly-changing world, an anchor in the storm. No matter what happens in this world or to this world, we can be assured that God still is. And isn't that the greatest of all things?

That's not to say that He is not also good; it is just to present the argument that His goodness is not the most vital thing about Him. His essence is. His very being is. His is-ness is.

Indeed, we know that He is good. His character reveals that much. His faithfulness reveals that much. In fact, we know a great deal about this God from all of the things that He chooses to reveal to us again and again, through His story and ours. It is not wrong to say that God is good. Not at all! But if we say only that God is good, then we have missed God altogether.

This is the problem that we fall into with ourselves, as well, and with others. We learn one thing about someone, and we think that must be the most true thing about them. From that point forward, that is all that we can see in them. Everything else they may or may not ever do is judged from its relationship to this one thing.

For example, we look at a man who is in prison, and we say he is a criminal. From that point forward, everything else we may ever come to know about him, everything he may ever do or not do, is evaluated from the starting point of his criminal nature. We forget, then, that he is a man worthy of dignity, since he is foremost a criminal. And we are amazed when he does anything meaningful for society. After all, he is a criminal! We are surprised to find him calling his mother on Christmas day from the cell block; he is only secondarily a mother's son - since he is primarily a criminal. Even when he is released, he remains a criminal in our eyes. He takes his good skills and attempts to put them to work in our economy, making a good living for himself and, perhaps, his family, and he is an able mechanic...but still, above all else, a criminal. Do you see the boxes that we have painted around such a man? We have missed the very depth of his true nature because we were unable to see past the one thing we thought for sure that we knew of him.

The same is true for God. We have created in our minds this image of a God who is good, and everything we come to know about Him, everything He may or may not ever do, is judged from this point. Our God may become angry with us, but we need not take His anger seriously, since He is foremost good. He may reference this condemnation for those who do not believe, but He is a good God, so how could He condemn anyone? (We have far too often confused 'good' with 'nice,' among so many other lesser things.) We have heard Him demand our undivided loyalty, but we have dismissed that as ideal only; His goodness will embrace our own goodness, and we'll be okay.

And we spend our lives trying to put God back into the "good" box. It is this that is most frustrating, perhaps, for the faith, for we live in a fallen world where bad things happen. Where things happen that are not "good." But in a theology in which our God is good above all else, we must either find a way to explain bad things in light of His goodness or else we must just throw up our hands and say we know, actually, nothing about Him. Neither has been an answer sufficient for the world, let alone for our own hearts.

This is why we must get out of this smallest box that tells us that God is, above all, good. This is not how He has revealed Himself, even though it remains a core component of His character. No, His revelation has told us that the greatest thing about our God is that He is. And if He simply is, then that makes room for all things that we come to know about Him, all things He may ever do or not do.

Now, when we consider what is bad in this fallen world, or what is at the least "not good," we have no fear of losing our God. No, He is just where He has always been, being in the midst of all. A constant in a constantly-changing world. An anchor in a storm.

So you see, when we stop saying that God is good and embrace that He primarily simply is, we do not diminish our theology. Not in the slightest! Rather, we expand it. And perhaps it may one day even be big enough to hold all of Him. 

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