That’s not just a question about intentions or absence of evil. I mean is God good? And if it’s God we’re talking about, He doesn’t get His attributes from the thrift store. He didn’t pick His goodness up at a garage sale. His attributes are not two sizes too small or something He has to grow into. God’s attributes are God-like, divine, perfect, ultimate. In other words the goodness of God is not a hat He puts on occasionally. God’s goodness is infinite, eternal, unchangeable, unsurpassed. To say that God is good is necessarily to claim that God is the Highest Good, the Greatest Good.
So, is God good? Is He explosively good? Overflowingly good? Everlastingly good? Uncontrollably good?
The answer to this question is the difference between light and darkness, the difference between joy and despair, the difference between true repentance and forgiveness on the one hand, and wallowing around in guilt and regrets and fear on the other.
Romans 1 says that the difference between light and darkness is the difference between thankfulness and ingratitude. Because God’s attributes — His glory, His goodness, His love, His mercy are all clearly seen in the world. You can’t miss them. The world is fully loaded with His goodness. But some people insist on not seeing, insist on not worshiping the God who makes it Christmas every day. These people refuse to give Him thanks, and Romans says that when they do this, their hearts are darkened. But it doesn’t stop there. When their hearts are dark, they begin to profess themselves to be very wise. They write books, publish articles, and have quite a lot to say about things, but they are actually fools. And you can tell because they start worshipping inanimate objects and animals and pretty much anything in creation other than the Awesome God who made it all. And God gives them over to their folly, and pretty soon men in suits are explaining in calm voices how sex with animals is probably a natural urge.
Open your eyes. What do you see? The answer is mind-blowing goodness. Open your mouth. What do you taste? The answer is chocolate, vanilla, strawberries, fresh brewed coffee, peanut butter, your wife’s mouth (and there’s honey under her tongue). Open your ears. What do you hear? The answer is goodness, glory, unending beauty. Lift up your hands. Chances are good you have five fingers on each. Ten presents. And you probably got the bonus features of opposable thumbs. Score.
Keep looking. You’ve got two legs and two feet and a decade of toes. It’s like a party in here.
In C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian, the climax of the story is Aslan, the Christ-figuring Lion, leading a parade of bacchanalian revelers through the countryside of Narnia bringing joy and life and gladness to the broken hearts and judging the cranks and the oppressors. And this is how Jesus comes. He comes like a party. He comes with the best wine for the wedding feast. He comes ordering the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to leap and walk. Jesus comes spilling the goodness of God all over the world. And this is because Jesus is God. And God’s goodness saves. Jesus means savior, and Jesus saves because He is the Goodness of God in your face.
Chesterton says that the world obviously reveals God as having the heart of a happy child who loves colors and sounds and tastes and like most kids, loves repetition. The world keeps spinning, the sun keeps rising and falling, the story keeps unfolding because God in His exuberance keeps calling out, Do it again! Do it again!
But we have all grown old in Adam. We are tired and bitter and jaded in our sins. But the sun is shining. There is magic in the air called electricity. You have eyes that are somehow managing to see colors and shapes. The world is shouting the goodness of God. Creation keeps saying what the Creator said, Good. Good. Good. It’s good, it’s very good. And yes, creation is also groaning, our bodies are groaning. There is sin and death and suffering, but this brings us back to our original question: Is God good? And there are no middle ground answers. Either God’s goodness is infinite, unending, overwhelming, unstoppable or He is not good. Less than absolutely good leaves us with a capricious, moody deity who lurches from whim to whim.
But if God is good, unfailingly good, and His mercy endures forever, then He is not trying to trick us, not crossing His fingers behind His back. The world and life, though mingled with pain, is loaded with real goodness. And we are grateful. We are supremely thankful. And when you give you thanks, you begin to see the world rightly. Your eyes are full of light.
Will you complain because you only got 14 million presents and the other guy got 15 million? Will you complain that your mountain of gifts seems a little shorter than her mountain of gifts? You seem to misunderstand. All those gifts came from Jesus, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Don’t you know that God our Father is the One who gives every good and perfect gift? And He can’t ever run out? His goodness is everlasting. His gifts never end.
Look at the ocean in its vastness. Look at the starry sky that keeps on going. God’s goodness is bigger and better, and you can’t reach the end of it.
Now look at your life, your story, your pain, your frustration, your sin. What can this possibly mean? If God is good, then God is for us. And if God is for us, what can stand against us? What can separate us from His love? You know how this story goes.