Friday, June 27, 2008

The Reality of Goodness

God is good. For God, to be God, He has to be eternally good. He can’t change back and forth from bad to good because that would make Him less than perfect. And if He is not eternally perfect, He is less than God, and not God at all.

All of humanity, granting a few exceptions, despite our failures, adheres to a standard of goodness versus badness. No one, in his right mind, sets up evil as the preferable standard of living.

Some are of the opinion that the dichotomy of valuing good over evil is a product of evolution and not of God’s design. It must be one or the other, for most people will attest to the existence of good and bad with the understanding of good being the standard by which we must live.

Atheist argue that being good of their own accord and not because God is going to punish them for being otherwise or reward them for their goodness is more admirable than one who desires to be good because God decrees it. However, there in lies a faulty view of God which is not based on real Christianity. Jesus did not come to make mankind more moral, but to transform mankind to a supernatural way of living empowered by Jesus which enables us to live as we were created to live which is not a life bond by sin. It is much more than freedom from bondage to sin, but to focus on the morality issue, we become free from sin, not out of religious compulsion to be good, but out of a changed nature that has been delivered from living in the bondage of sin.

Goodness, thus, is a byproduct of a relationship with Jesus, and not the result of religious compulsion. Thus, we love, not because we “ought to” but because tangible love bubbles up from within us out of our relationship with Christ and it becomes a natural expression by which we live and not something we work at to please a vindictive God. More accurately, it is a supernatural express for it comes not from our heart alone, but from God’s heart through us.

In fact, I think that this argument of the atheist lends itself more to religion than the authentic Christianity I am explaining. Let me expound on this idea. For the atheist to adhere to being good because they are evolved to prefer a standard of good over evil, they are still following rules of goodness. The atheist either follows society’s rules of goodness or their own rules of goodness or some combination of the two. The Christian, on the other hand, does not follow rules of goodness, but is transformed to do what is good as a byproduct of their relationship with Jesus. So “goodness” comes from being connected to God who is good and who transforms our nature versus “goodness” coming from a mere adherence to rules and law. Morality, then, is authentic of who we are in God and who God is in us.

People have a desire to live good lives, while, at the same time, often failing to keep our own standards of goodness, because we were created in God’s image and His stamp of the way things ought to be is ingrained in our very DNA. However, because we have the freedom to choice to follow God’s way of living or our way of living we also have the stamp of a fallen human nature produced when the first man chose his way instead of God’s way. We, thus, struggle between the two natures and when we come to Christ, our fallen nature is replaced by our redeemed nature and through this real tangible relationship with Jesus we become more and more like Him.

This is authentic Christianity. No one by their own efforts can ever perfectly live up to even their own standard of goodness, much less the perfect goodness of God. We all fail. However, God in His perfect goodness and love provided a way to redeem us, making us holy by fellowship with His holiness through the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Now, of course, if God doesn’t exist and this worldview is merely the creative imagination of a bunch of first century fisherman who miraculously created the best selling book of all time and died torturous deaths for their belief in this reality, then this is all rubbish. Christians are, therefore, mistaking God for what is really the work of an evolutionary process which amazingly created in all mankind a desire to do good even if it is self-sacrificing to do so. Moreover, even though evil still exist in this world, it’s merely a product of evolution as well and yet the entire history of humanity judges evil actions as bad. It’s all a matter of chance as to whether our DNA leads us to good or evil. Or maybe evil is what Christianity claims, a product of man living apart from the way God designed life and man left to his own nature produces evil in some form or another because it is impossible to live up to even our own standards without being connected and redeemed by God.

Life as a Christian is exciting. Real Christianity doesn’t look like religion. It has a taste of heaven, a substance of glory, a freedom of Christ. It is a wondrous reality. The Gospel of Christ is good news about a good God. G.K. Chesterton famously wrote that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and untried.”

1 comment:

Mandy said...

I enjoyed this post. I've been thinking a lot about goodness lately, brought up by some things that are happening in my life. I think the beauty of Christianity is accepting that God IS goodness. I'm writing a paper of Julian of Norwich, and in her words, "God is nothing but goodness." I'm coming to realize that a lot of kindness and selflessness comes from having that inner peace and strong sense of self that comes from loving God and, yes, loving yourself (which some of us find hard sometimes). The interesting thing I find about people saying that 'goodness' is a product of evolution is that it really doesn't make sense. Because it is often NOT in the interests of our self-preservation to do the 'right' thing. Often kindness actually is in opposition to our survivor instinct, but we do it ANYWAY. Thanks for the thoughts. xoxo