- Religion and Philosophy
Bad Things to Good People? or Good Things to Bad People? Part II
A fellow hubber commented that she'd been taught that in the "best of us, there is a little bad, and in the worst of us, there is a little good." What a great segue for what's on my mind for this second installment. Definitions, definitions, definitions. Whether this statement is true or not depends on where the speaker is coming from. It could be a dismissive statement intended to discourage attempts to discern between what's bad and what's good. On the other hand, she might have meant that the most sincere follower of Jesus is still a sinner and that the most evil person is still an image bearer of God. This latter stance is right on!
Who gets to decide?
I have a washer that likes to wander about our laundry room when it's on the spin cycle. I'm told the reason for this is that it's not level. I squint my eyes and judge it to be level. My wife asserts that it leans to the right. What's needed? An independent and reliable standard. A quick trip to the garage for a level solves our problem. So it is with "good" and "bad." We most often define the words according to how a particular event affects us. A heavy rain is bad for me because a pool of water will form at the entrance to my home. But a block away there's a farmer who is delighted with the rain for it has watered his parched field. There could be a million farmers, all calling the rain a very good thing. It's still bad to me 'cause I can't get into my home! A majority vote doesn't help with our definition of "good" and "bad."
God, the Judge of all the earth
That's what Abraham called God. Of course, my atheist and agnostic and other yet-to-believe readers will cry "foul!" But what's the alternative? Individual sentiments? Majority opinion? Cultural trends? Government? Google? Without being dogmatic, it seems reasonable to me to posit the existence of a personal and engaged God who is himself the standard of right and wrong, of good and evil. When I write that I'm not dogmatic, I don't admit doubt about the existence of God. No, integrity requires that if it can be proven that there is no God and that the Christian faith is a fraud I must change my convictions. I don't expect that to happen though.
Who is good?
A good person finds such great delight in knowing and pleasing God that he reflects God's perspective in all that he thinks, says and does. That's a fair summary of what the Scriptures teach. God's perspective will be found in the Scriptures, particularly in the ten commandments. Do I know any good people? Only one: Jesus.
Now God invites you and me to become good, like Jesus. He's revealed a path to lead us there. With regard to how you evaluate particular events in your life try this. Anything that causes you to find the path and stay on it must be judged to be good. Conversely, anything that blocks access to the path or knocks you off the path would be bad. Joy and I had dinner last night with a family who illustrate what I've just said. Each member of the family is on the path toward becoming more and more like Jesus. Each freely admits imperfection. Each credits very bad and painful experiences in the past for current joy and delight in the Savior. So looking back, those experiences might be called good. That doesn't justify the abuse that took place nor the deception. It's just to say, as did Joseph, what was meant for evil, God used for good.
There are three stages for traveling the path toward being like Jesus. You've got to get on the path, stay on the path and arrive at the destination. The destination, of course, is seeing Jesus and spending eternity with Him.
It begins with finding and getting on the path. But you'll never even look for the path as long as you're confused about what is good and what is bad. See, if you think of yourself as already good then you don't need the path. But then there'd be no explanation for the bad and the painful things that happen to you. Stay tuned for more.