The acts of goodness that most amaze us are the undeserved and unexpected acts. We remember them. The young man who takes off his own shoes and gives them to a homeless man whose shoes are in tatters. The policeman bringing food to someone begging on the street instead of arresting them. People like Mother Theresa who left a life of Western comforts to devote herself to the poor of India. I remember as a child someone who used to treat me a bit harshly and then one day did something unexpectedly kind to me. It’s been more than 50 years and I don’t remember the specifics of her harsh side but I distinctly remember that kind act. Such acts bring us to tears. They revive our hearts. They give us hope. Why? Because we instinctively long for such gracious goodness in a world so lacking in it. I read the internet news almost daily and what I see there is that for every act of gracious goodness, there are five or ten stories of murder, cruelty and betrayal. These rare acts of goodness help to restore us in the face of such cruelty and wrongdoing.
And yet we do not see that our lives and the lives of the entire world are bathed in the gracious goodness of God. God created this world knowing what we would do with it. He could have simply said no to the very idea of the world. He could have decided the world was not worth the trouble. After all, the world breaks his heart every moment of every day. Who needs that? But for the sake of the love he decided to lavish on us, God decided we were worth all the pain we would inflict on him. Gracious goodness. Faithful goodness.
Every morning the sun comes up on a world that, to my eyes, seems to be becoming more and more evil. God endures the evil which he sees much more clearly than I do for the sake of love. Gracious goodness unappreciated by the world.
Man rejects his Creator, choosing instead claiming to create himself by his own power, which is what evolution is in its simplest terms. In spite of rejection, God continues to sustain his creation. He holds it in his hand and never takes his eyes off it. If he were to turn his head for even a moment, it would cease to be. Loving goodness in spite of man’s disdain.
He calls to us in spite of all of this, reasoning with our stone cold hearts. No other beings in this created universe are capable with communicating at this level with God. He gave us that ability and we use it for everything else. A gracious gift that we ignore.
We walk in his gracious goodness. It surrounds us. We breathe it in. We cannot exist without it. It gives us being and it gives us meaning. Our lives should be lived in gratitude for this goodness. It has a vastness that we can spend all of eternity exploring and we will still never reach its end.
This is the goodness he extends to the entire world. The goodness he extends to those who follow him is so much greater. We were created to worship and serve God. He could have redeemed us and left us as servants. That would have been more goodness than we deserved and still be enough to fill our hearts to overflowing but he did not do that. Instead, he raised us up from being servants to be being his sons and daughters. He placed us in the position of being cherished children, free to approach a loving father in a relationship no servant could ever have. He commanded us to have a boldness in approaching him that no servant would ever dare to assume. Gracious goodness. Breathtaking goodness. Goodness that calls for absolute love and a heart dedicated to the One who is truly good beyond words or description.
God calls us to take in his goodness and rejoice in it. To give him back the love and joy he directs at us. To reflect, as the moon reflects the sun, the gracious goodness of God.
How can I repay the Lord
for all the good He has done for me?
I will take the cup of salvation
and call on the name of [the Lord].
Psalm 116:12, 13