06 April 2020

Good and Evil: Finding Hope In God's Goodness

In the second chapter of Genesis, God gave the first two people, one called "Humanity" and the other "Life" a choice; they could either trust God, be a part of his family, and share in his abundance, or they could choose to seek power for themselves, apart from God. They made their choice and humanity has been making the same choice ever since. The entire Bible is about how human power structures oppress the most vulnerable in our society and cause them to suffer.

There is evil in the world. We are told by Paul in Romans 3:23-24 that "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." and by Jesus in Mark 10:18 that "No one is good except one—God." But does this mean that we are all evil and that we cannot be anything else?

Let's assume for a moment that it does. That means that everything we do, or neglect to do, increases the evil in the world. Now think about all the people you know, both Christian and non-Christian. Do they do evil all of the time? Obviously not. Jesus tells us this as well in Matthew 7:9-11, "who is there among you who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"

We know how to do good things, we just don't always do them. This is not evil, but it is not good. Jesus calls us evil in order to show how far away the goodness of God is from the goodness of humanity. Perhaps the best way to show this is to show how much greater the goodness of God is from the evil of humanity.

In Genesis 37, Joseph is sold by his brothers into slavery in the far away land of Egypt. While in Egypt, he prospers, even becoming the second-in-command under Pharaoh. When there is famine in the land, Joseph's family, including the brothers which sold him into slavery go to Egypt, because they heard there was grain there. When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he assures them, "you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to save many people, as is happening today" (Gen 50:20).

When Jesus says that God is good, he does not mean that God simply does good. He means that God's goodness is a transformative power that even turns the actions of evil people to serve good ends. God works through famine and flood, transforming evil and destruction into goodness and life. The choice he gave in the beginning is the choice he gives today. We are still invited to join God's family and share in God's abundance, if only we will believe (Rom 4:1-4).

Peace be with you.

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