One thing I have been cautious of as a parent is mis-leading my kids no matter how innocent my intentions are. If I tell them that Santa Claus is real and a friend later shows them he’s not, they have just opened the door of doubt in my child’s mind that other things I tell them aren’t actually all the way true either. And that possibility right there was enough for me to give up my happy thoughts of sneaking gifts from Santa under the tree or leaving cookies out for flying reindeer because I knew that later there could be something with more eternal significance that they may begin to doubt. I decided it wasn’t worth the trade.
Maybe I should have picked a more fall appropriate analogy. We are finally experiencing the first cool day and it appears when the door cracked open, I ran all the way to December. Stick with me!
My kids have passed through the age of believing in fairy tales or needing to spell out places so they don’t know what I’m talking about, and while I hesitantly breathe a sigh of relief for navigating that stage, I held my breath as I was studying about goodness for this post. I realized that I have unintentionally communicated something mis-leading that may not only cause my kids to question, but possibly also those precious friends that we shared life with in Africa, the family we try to be examples to in America, my own heart…. I realized that in all my encouragement of the way to live as Christians (love, care, share, serve, sacrifice, etc.) I may have communicated that Christians = good. And when they would see the Muslim shopkeeper give food to the older woman, or the atheist business man drop coins into the homeless man’s cup they see that Christians + anyone = good?
The problem is Christians don’t have the corner market on good. I have seen the farthest people from God do the right thing. Choose not to cheat. Choose to be generous. Do the “good” thing. And if the “good” action is all that is required to be good, then I am tempted to hang on to some not so good in my life as long as there is also room for the good. Danger. I hear the little sirens going off in my head.
I need people no matter where I serve to see that there is good in the world because God is good! He created the world and called it good! And people no matter whom or what they serve are drawn to partake in the good. However, there is goodness in those who follow Jesus…and that looks different.
Gospel goodness means that we serve the only God who moved toward us and didn’t ask us to search for him. Gospel goodness means we find our identity in Christ not in our good deeds. It means our goodness brings him glory and not ourselves. Goodness invades every part of our lives. In Micah 6:8 the Lord defines “good” for us…”to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” That type of goodness cannot be satisfied by including countless good deeds to justify a lapse in character. It can’t be defined by what we exclude in our life at the expense of including the harder things to say yes to. It is a daily decision for every thought that makes up who we are to be surrendered to live a life of goodness.
Goodness, the overlooked fruit of the Spirit, can’t be satisfied with one act. I can be kind. I can love. I can have joy, but, I have to live goodness. And if I am having trouble feeling successful at that I can’t just add another good deed, I have to add more of Him. He’s the best teacher…thank goodness.
What are glimpses your host culture has shown you of good even if they don’t fully live a life of goodness?