“They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone.” From the Acts of the Apostles 2:43-47
Over the last four weeks we’ve learned that God did some really cool stuff through the Apostles that left people in awe. This caused people to want to be a part of their new way, and soon they built a community where all things were held in common.
Everything they did seem to be a holy task because everything they did was grounded in Christlike love. Moreover, all this was done so that all people would come to see the presence of God all around them. They did this, as Luke writes, by demonstrating God’s goodness to everyone.
While you might think it’s impossible to do great miracles or crazy to pool your finances into a common bank account, any one of us is capable of demonstrating God’s goodness. And in doing so, even pull off a few miracles or at least make sure everyone is taken care of.
Our first question then is simply: What is the goodness of God?
The easiest way to describe it is to say it’s God’s very essence.Goodness is who God inherently is. God is the original source of goodness. It’s not like it first came from something else. So we say, God is good.
As creatures made in God’s image, this means we too are inherently good. The first chapter of the bible tells us, “God saw everything he made; it was supremely good” (Genesis 1:31). At times you might not think this about yourself or others. But like the psalmist reminds us, “The Lord is good to everyone and everything. God’s compassion extends to all his handiwork!" (Ps. 145:9).
We don’t earn God’s goodness. We are made in it; whether we think we’re worthy of it or not.
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Now you might be thinking, if this is true then…why is it so hard to see God’s goodness in our world today? Outside this horrific pandemic that is killing so many of God’s children, we still have war, famine, poverty, mass shootings, personal assaults, police brutality, racism – the list these days seems endless. You might be wondering, “Why doesn’t God do something about it?”
What if God did do something, and is waiting for us to respond?
Imagine seeing a love one suffering, what should you do? Ignore them and their pain? Or sit with them and tend to whatever it is that is causing them hurt? Whenever we enter into such a place, God’s goodness is able to shine.
This is what we are called to do, as individuals and as a church; to be the visible presence of God’s goodness. God has made us good, but it’s up to us to live into it. And we have no excuse not to. In Jesus, God’s divine goodness became flesh, so we’d have a living example on how to live into our true selves. If you want to know what to do, simply see what Jesus does and do that.
As Christ followers, we should make every effort to be like Jesus – loving others, being generous, and doing good.
Like Peter points out, we have a responsibility to show others the goodness of God as it flows in and through us (1 Peter 2:9). This should be the distinguishing mark of Christ’s church - to be living examples of God’s goodness. So why then is it so hard to see God’s goodness in our world today?
Such miracles of love happen all the time – in our houses, and workplaces, and all around our communities. They happen as we listen to someone complain without judging them for doing so. They happen every time we check in with our neighbors who live alone. They happen when you support a local blood drive or volunteer to deliver food for Meals on Wheels. They happen every time you work in your community to create programs that plant more trees or offers safe havens for the homeless, or vote for a candidate who believes in strengthening gun control laws.
From the ordinary to the extraordinary, God works miracles through us to spread divine goodness into the world. It happens every time we choose to show love.
We are God’s ambassadors, co-laborers in God’s kingdom. Just as we are made from love, we are made to give it away. Christian faith is not about waiting for God to act, it’s about taking action in God’s name – opening our hearts, our hands to bring God’s love to light just as Jesus did and called us to do as well.
Imagine the radical impact we can have on our communities if only we would respond to Jesus’ call to be a living, breathing example of God’s goodness in the world. We can sit around waiting for God to act. Or we can say yes to God who acts through us to transform the world.
This takes us back to that question of “Why does a God who is so good and loving allow bad things to happen?” Every time I get this question I answer honestly, “I don’t know. But I suspect God could ask us the same question. Why do we allow it?"
God is waiting on us, to speak goodness into impossible situations. God is waiting on us, to do good things that help the oppressed, hopeless, and lost. God is waiting on us, to cherish all of life so that all things can sing of God’s glory.
God is waiting on us, to be like this early church who like Jesus himself, would become the visible presence of God’s love and grace in the world. God is waiting on us to share ourselves, our resources, our time and our hearts with one another.
There’s this prevalent belief that there’s not enough to go around. It’s not that there isn’t enough to share, but that there is too much greed and not enough love. The love of God given to us through Jesus Christ does not weigh and measure its portions, it just gives. Through Christ, God pours goodness into us until it spills out of us … all so that others can see and believe.
Mother Teresa upheld that belief faithfully as she devoted her entire life to caring for the neediest and most vulnerable of the world. Her work and love ethic remind us that, “Love cannot remain by itself – (otherwise) it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.” Through her endless acts of faith, Mother Teresa was able to encounter God in the poor, sick and dying.
As she once said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do many small things with great love.We may not have the ability to feed a hundred people, but we can feed one.” We may never encounter a leper whose wounds need tending, but each one of us knows someone whose broken heart needs mending.
Mother Teresa would come to realize, the great paradox is this - “If you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
And so I leave you with this reminder: Wherever our love is present, so too is God’s goodness. We are made from love for the purpose of love.
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. But by Jesus who said “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
As followers of Christ, we must never forget that whatever we do to one another, we do also to our Lord. “If you love me,” said Jesus, “then you will love one another.” Love is the goal. Love is our purpose. It’s how people will see our faith and come to know us, as individuals and as a church community.
As we enter Anamesa, as we move in that space between us and the other, we must do so by sowing the seeds of God’s love. When others divide, we must unite; creating communities of care. When others hoard, we must help; sharing the gifts and blessings we have received. When others deceive, we must stand up for truth; demanding fairness and justice for all so God’s glory can shine forth through and from all people.
When others are uncaring and overwhelmed, let’s be kind and respectful; loving fully and faithfully as if we are loving Christ himself.
This is God’s goodness at work through us.
This is how people will notice us.
This is God becomes glorified.
And the church becomes the living, breathing body of Christ.
“And day by day, God adds to the number of people being saved.”
Kubrick, Kirk Allen. The Fourth Sunday of Easter Is. April 13, 2008 (accessed on June 25, 2021).
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”