Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Some people object to the phrase, “God is good,” and for good reasons. Others say, “God is good,” whenever something good comes their way, and this works for them.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I remember when Bishop Linda Lee led the Wisconsin Conference and how she would regularly (and often) pull us back to task.
Bishop: “God is good.”
Church: “All the time.”
Bishop: “All the time,”
Church: “God is good.” 
But is God good?

Yes, God is good – in the same sense that life is good and that burping when your stomach is distended is good. Neither example have any inherent goodness about them. Releasing GI pressure brings ease. As long as we don’t do it in an unacceptable space or moment – like during the community prayer at church or during the heart-wrenching death scene at the theatre – all is good. Life is good, as good as we choose to believe it to be with all the death, disease and injustice that abounds.

Yes, God is good. The Source of All that Is leads us to live as fully as we’re able, with a compassion- and justice-focused mindset. The One that is Beyond All Else empowers us to live abundantly, to trust that even with all the bad stuff that life throws at us living is still a gift, something worth doing as well as we can.

So God is good.

But is God really good?

No, not if you mean “good” as we might measure it on our own good/bad scale. We humans are each somewhere on that continuum, some of us more good, some more bad, while others are smack-dab in the middle.

The challenge to God’s goodness comes when we accept that God doesn’t fit on this continuum. God is neither good nor bad – not by any human definition. God is quite other. Not simply larger (tho’ that may be); instead God is different beyond our comprehension. To use an imperfect analogy, we can’t really compare apples, mallard ducks and rose crystal. They each have their merits. Each has its value. But equating one with the other? ... that’s tough.

Then is God good?

When my children were young, I tried to remind them often that they were perfect just as they were. They were exactly as a five- (or seven- or ten-) year-old ought to be. This idea also helped when I might otherwise have been frustrated by students at school. “They’re perfect examples of 7th graders. They’re acting just like 12- and 13-year olds should act.” 

Expecting that nine-year-old to act like a nine-year old and not like a little man is about perspective. It's helpful – for both of us. Not expecting God to act like a finite human being is also about perspective, and is similarly helpful. I honestly believe that God (however you define them) leads us – rocks, blowfish, and humans, all of us – toward a best way, if we will only accept guidance. The blowfish and rocks are better at following but with practice we can get pretty good too.