Tuesday, May 08, 2007

believing in God's greatness and goodness

When I was a boy the prayer I was taught to pray began like this:
God is great and God is good
Back then theology was not in the flux it is in today over God and what it means to think of God's greatness as in his power along with his goodness and what this means in a world preyed on continually by evil.

I believe it is absolutely essential for us to hold on to God's greatness and his goodness even for this world and for our communities in faith, our families and for ourselves. We must hold on to this for dear life.

But we must hold on to it contextually according to Scripture and especially according to God's revelation to us in Christ. For example, we're told at the end of one of the most glorious chapters of the Bible, Romans 8, that nothing at all can separate us who are in Christ from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Those nothings listed include the sword, famine, nakedness and death itself. In this life we're called to an existence that is anything but certain. Just ask Christians who live or have lived in places in which their simple Christian faith is not approved by the government. Or the mother whose baby is born dead. Or the young man who receives a bad prognosis from his doctor.

God is great and God is good. But how that is worked out in this life is not according to how we would work out greatness and goodness. Would we send our one and only unique Son, our very heart, love and life into a sinful, rebellious world, actually to become human and die a cruel death for the good of sinners and the world? This is beginning to get at true greatness and goodness, at least the kind we see from God in Christ.

God is great and God is good does not make him into some superman-like character who will rescue the world and make everyone live happily ever after, by and by. But he is one who brings in the new creation through his kingdom come in Jesus. And it's a new life characterized by death to the old and to what the old is all about.

So we need to think of God's greatness and goodness according to this new working of God, this redemptive, reconciling work for the world. As we do that we can perhaps better deal with the Job-like difficulties that can come into our world. Then we can say with the psalmist in confidence:
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
We know the ending which we actually begin to experience or catch glimpses and tastes of now, will be great and good.

What do you think of when you think of this, or of God's greatness and goodness?

7 comments:

Community is Key said...

This is a great reminder to look outside our circumstances and take a harder look at God's promises.
Thank you for your thoughts.
-sarah

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks, Sarah.

Charity Singleton said...

Ted -- I think these two attributes of God, his greatness and his goodness, are the two things I have to remind myself when I am struggling with doubt or difficulty. God's greatness means He is able to help me in every situation. And God's goodness means He will always do what is best for me, even if I don't know what that is. I am going to begin my evening prayers this way tonight, Ted.

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, Thanks for your thoughts. These are important things to remember, that God is just as great as he is good, and that God is just as good as he is great. Seeing this from Scripture and in Christ helps us, surely.

Ted Gossard said...

Sarah, And I just want to remark that your thought on taking our eyes off our circumstances and onto God and his promises is so key. A good reminder from you as well. Thanks again.

Stacy said...

I think, "Wow. I know Him, too! And He knows me!"

Ted Gossard said...

Amen, Stacy!