Valuing the Goodness of God

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When Jesus appointed Apostles as the leaders of the movement of the Church He established culture shaping as the primary role of the Church.

Jesus wants us to learn the art of harnessing the winds that form culture. 

The principle means He established for this to take place was for His followers to culture the Kingdom within (Luke 17:21).

As we cultivate the Kingdom within us and become saltly, light filled Kingdom carriers, we carry the potency of leaven that influences whatever environment we are placed in.

Culture is the tacit social order of a group (tacid means the unspoken norm): It shapes attitudes and behaviours in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group.

(Harvard Business Review: Boris Groysberg Jeremiah LeeJesse PriceJ. Yo-Jud Cheng)

Culture is made up of: Behaviours (How you act) <<< Values (What’s important to you) <<< Beliefs (What you embrace as truth)

DEFINING GOD IS GOOD

Before people called God, “God”, they referred to the essence of God by a single term.

	Essence (def.): all that makes a thing what it is; it’s nature.

They termed this Essence “Glory.”

“Glory is the nearest you come to describing God in but one word. … [Glory] is God’s `essence’. 

R T Kendall

Stephen, in Acts 7:2 called God, `the God of glory’.

Moses in Exodus 33 had been engaging with God for some time. He had grown up in a Polytheistic society which had a god for everything.  

He was on a journey in discovering the nature of this God and he wants to understand if this God has got it in Him to be able to deal with the troublesome Israel. “Have you got the capacity to get us to the Promised Land destination?” 

He asks God for a disclosure.  

And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

Exodus 33: 18

The word in Hebrew translated “Glory” is the the word “kabodh”, which refers to heaviness or weight. It refers to one’s weight, or stature. It is used no fewer than 222 times in the Old Testament.”.

In response to Moses’ request to “taste” the glory of God, God says,

“I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. 

Exodus 33: 18

God summarizes His goodness (His complete nature and character) with just one word “Goodness”.

The Hebrew word we translate as “Goodness”, It literally means pleasantness, beauty, kindness. 

The Apostle John later on describes God as  pure “light,” and pure “love.” 

God means ‘the good’

In the 15th Century, during the Dark Ages, the period of time when Humanity had an arrested development, they coined a term for the “Glory”. They referred to it as the “The Good”, later shortened to “God”.

In summary, humanity throughout the ages has affirmed that God, is Good, He is pure goodness. 

This was perfectly portrayed by the incarnated, enfleshment by Jesus. Jesus, who is perfect theology, confirmed in Human form, that God is absolutely good. 

“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty,

Exodus 34

Everything He does is an expression of His goodness. When God stood back and examined His creative work at every stage of the process, He remarked, “It is good.” (Gen 1) seven times in Genesis 1.

Even God’s judgement are an expression of His goodness. His goodness would require that He would be against everything that damages love. That is how goodness deals with evil. 

The ultimate expression of the goodness of God is God the Father. Jesus came to unveil the nature of God. He does this by revealing to the world the Father. 

People often point out the reasons Jesus came to earth:

  • He came to atone for people’s sins
  • He came to forge a New Covenant 
  • He came to set the captives free
  • He came to heal the sick 
  • He came to show us truth

All these are sub-points to the main reason that Jesus came. Jesus came to reveal the Father to an orphan planet.

The Gospel writer John tells us that towards the end of Jesus’ time on the earth Jesus reports back on His mission. 

4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do…

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. 

John 17:4, 6

Everything Jesus did was to reveal the Father. 

The word father is used 613 times in the Old Testament and only 4 times in reference to God. In the New Testament the word father though is used 311 times, 249 times it is in reference to God. 

Jesus tells invites His followers to relate to God as their Father.

God is a good Father; we can trust Him regardless of our circumstances. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

  • God is for us; He chose to redeem us from our sin. 
  • God is not mad at us. 
  • God is so good that He is in a good mood all the time.
  • God’s desire is to bless us in every area of our lives: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and vocationally.
  • Jesus is our model. He healed all the sick He encountered and never said sickness was from God. In the New Covenant, God does not generally use sickness to teach lessons, build character or punish people. 
  • We live with the practical conviction that God wants to save and heal everyone.
  • God will never take His purposes or His gifts from our life. 
  • We are God’s masterpieces. His process and pruning are always meant to reveal our true identity and release us into fullness of life. 
  • God hears and always responds to our prayers.

DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND

  • We cannot do whatever we want and expect God to always bless us. 
  • God remains the ultimate judge of every human being. 
  • God is hurt by our sinful actions and will lovingly confront us if and when we sin. 
  • Despite God’s goodness and love, some people will still choose hell over heaven. 
  • The life of a believer is not free from trials or persecution.
  • Every believer is responsible for stewarding and growing the gifts and talents God has given us. 
  • In His goodness, God doesn’t always respond to our prayers in the way or timing we expect.

What isn’t the Goodness of God

Sometimes in our efforts to hold on to the theology of the sovereignty of God (that God is in charge of everything that happens on this planet and that everything that happens is therefore and oppression of His will), we create a Frankenstein god. By Frankenstein God, I mean a god that in all reality is less than good and a god, who in human terms were to at in these ways would be termed as a child abuser. 

Anything that would cause you to question the goodness of God or casts a shadow over the nature of God is not of God and not His will.

It is not that God doesn’t use the challenges of life to grow us or teach us about Him, He does this. However, God doesn’t send sickness, death, evil, or bad things our way. The Bible is clear:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

John 10:10

In other words: Good = God, Bad = The Devil. When in an effort to hold onto our belief in the sovereignty of God causes a confusion of the above it is a sign that our theology that is askew. 

How to value the Goodness of God

Our series is about Kingdom values. All the above is a description of the goodness of God. What we are wanting to do is cultivate a lifestyle where we value the value.

How do you show value for a value? By enjoying it!

Many people though struggle with the idea that we can enjoy God. We feel in doing so we are taking advantage of Him or will slip into what Bob Sjøgren and Gerald Robison describe as Cat theology. 

A cat says, “You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be god.” (Bob Sjøgren and Gerald Robison)

I have two cats, Leo and Hugo. They think the world revolves around them. But my dog, Lilly, gets exactly the same treatment as the cats do; I pet her, I feed her, I shelter her, I love her. Her conclusion of my blessing to her is not that she is god, but I am!

Is it ok to enjoy God. God invites us to enjoy Him. God is blessed not threatened by our delight in Him. He invites it. 

Psalm 38:8 tells us, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

The Presbyterian Church’s Westminster Shorter Catechism, formed in the 17th century, summarized the entire purpose of human life this way:

“Humanity’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” 

The Westminster Shorter catechism

We show value for the goodness of God by jumping into where ever His goodness shows up.

My cats are great illustrators of how to do this. When the sun shines through the windows of our home our cats go and lay in the spot the sun is shining. In fact they love to stretch out and soak in as much sunlight and warmth as they bodies can absorb. God invites us to mimic them by jumping into every pool of His goodness that we can find. Our task is become great spotters of His goodness. 

How does God’s goodness show up?

Where does the Goodness of God shine around you? Everywhere!

He shows us in nature, through people, in Church, through work, in unexpected blessings. HE is everywhere and always pouring out His goodness (Mat 4:45). 

Here are a few specific ways God’s goodness is there fore us to enjoy.

The Manifest Presence of God

God is omnipresent. In other word, He is everywhere at all times and in all places. That is one thing that makes God, God. However, his Manifest Presence is His felt presence in a specific location. God encourages His people to relate to both His ‘ominpresenceness’ and also his Manifest Presence. 

In the 17th century, after a dramatic religious conversion, an illiterate, young French man devoted his life to God joining a monastery. He was known as Brother Lawrence. He spent the rest of his life working in the kitchen and repairing his brothers’ sandals. 

But during his decades of doing seemingly menial jobs, Brother Lawrence discovered a profound truth about having a relationship with God: Experiencing His presence is the most wonderful gift to humanity.

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.

“The time of business…does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the [Lord’s Supper].

“The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him. We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”

Brother Lawrence became so famous for his practice of the presence that leaders of the Catholic Church came from all over the world to meet with him and learn from him.  

Gratitude 

Gratitude means thanks and appreciation. … Gratitude, which rhymes with “attitude,” comes from the Latin word gratus, which means “thankful, pleasing.”

In the New International Version, Hebrews 12:28 says:

Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe

The same verse in the King James Version reads:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Did you spot the difference in the translations? Both translations are correct because the phrases, “let us have grace” and “let us be thankful” mean exactly the same thing!

The word “thanks” in the NIV and “grace” in the New King James is the word “charis”. Our modern “Romance” Languages, capture the connection between thankfulness and grace. “Grâce à Dieu,” in French means “Thank God”. The Spanish for, “thank you” is “gracias”; in Italian, it is “grazi”

There is an incredible invitation to us in this revelation. Thankfulness and graduate to God turns on the flow of His grace to our lives. 

Rest (Sabbath) 

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Gen 2:1-3

The Sabbath principle existed before for Law and made it into the New Testament.

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

Hebrews 4:9

God’s rest in Genesis 2 was not an expression of God’s tiredness (after all God never gets tired), but rather His Sovereignty. When God ceased from His work in Genesis it was an expression of His rule over creation, His coronation as King over His creation. He rested because everything was in order and there was no more work for Him to do. Today the act of a sovereign sitting in their throne room is similarly an expression of their rulership over their domain.

Sabbath connects us with the sovereignty of God. Humanity was created on Day 6 of God’s creative work. This means their first full day alive was Day 7, the Sabbath, the day of rest. They began life in God’s reign and life was meant to be lived out of this place of rest forevermore. 

When Jesus defeated Sin, evil, and wickedness on in His life, death, resurrection and ascension He reestablished the possibility of Sabbath for humanity. He invited His followers to step back into this sabbath existence and to guard it. The failure not to was to miss out on the blessing of His sacrifice for humanity.  

A J Jacobs, in his book A Year of Living Biblically shares how he tried to incorporate sabbath into his life:

As a workaholic (I check my emails in the middle of movies), I learned the beauty of an enforced pause in the week. No cell phones, no messages, no thinking about deadlines. It was a bizarre and glorious feeling. As one famous rabbi called it, the sabbath is a “sanctuary in time.”

It can be hard to intentionally stop and say “no” to the millions of things that scream for our attention each day. But the very act in doing so prophetically speaks to our circumstances, no matter how important and urgent, that Jesus is Lord over our lives.  

I would encourage three aspects of a sabbath day, refraining from work, worshipping God in your faith community and enjoy a good meal with family and friends.

Remember what Jesus said:

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” 

Mark 2:27


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