God is Good! Ephesians 1:15-23 Psalm 100:1-5
After the baptism of his baby brother, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, “The preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys.”
If you grew up in a Christian home - like so many of us did - you may have learned the childhood prayer: “God is great. God is good... Let us thank him for our food.”
While simplistic (and trust me, I appreciate simplistic), that childhood prayer exposes children to a crucial and foundational characteristic of God: It reminds us of his goodness.
And one of phrases we’ve come to use as adults... is God is Good, All the Time!
But do we really believe that? Do we honestly live as if God is good all the time?
Many people don’t...
It can be hard to acknowledge the goodness of God when we see all the hurt, and pain, and suffering in the world. It’s even harder to profess God’s goodness when we’re in pain ourselves, or when someone we love is hurting. We sometimes get “tunnel vision” when we’re in conflict or crisis. We’re tempted to think God’s goodness is for everyone else - except us... especially when we’re depressed, and lonely... and worried or stressed out. It’s hard to focus on God’s goodness when the coarse, harshness of life is consuming most of our attention.
So how can we trust in God’s goodness when we don’t always see it - or feel it - ourselves?
Well, during those times, we trust God’s Word... and His Word reminds us of his goodness over and over: “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5).
Focusing on God’s goodness is so important... because it gives us perspective on our darkest moments... it gives us a foundation - a firm footing - when we need it the most.
God wants to give us a life of confidence, even in the face of difficulty. He wants to give us assurance and purpose. He wants us to know His love... and to comfort us. God longs to give us a life that’s abundant and blessed. He wants to give us a life filled with generosity.
Who doesn’t want all that? Who doesn’t need more confidence, and assurance, and purpose... who has too much love and comfort... who couldn’t use more abundance and blessing, and generosity?
The fact is... when you & I believe in and understand the goodness of God... when it becomes the fiber and foundation of our faith... it will transform our lives and our relationships - both with one another, and with God! The knowledge and acceptance of God’s goodness transforms our lives for the better! It gives us hope...
You know... one of the central messages... one of the grand themes of the Bible is: God doesn’t love you because of who you are or what you’ve done... but because of who He is and what He has done.
God made you. He loves you. It’s settled. It’s a fact. You can’t make God love you more. You can’t make God love you less. He loves you just as much on your bad days as he does on your good days. His love is not performance-based, or merit-based.
And the Bible has a word for that... grace. And it’s absolutely amazing. God looks at you and says, “I choose to love you. And you can’t make me stop loving you.”
Even when we’ve sinned... even when we’re ridiculously rebellious, God never stops loving us. It truly is amazing grace. When you realize his grace... God’s peace begins to rule your thoughts, and actions. You can relax about your shortcomings and failures - and walk in the confidence of Christ’s love.
That’s what Paul was praying for in our Scripture from Ephesians: when he said, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better! I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
The problem with most of us - the problem for most followers of Christ - is that we don’t REALLY believe that God loves us as much as he does. We don’t really trust that God’s love is unchanging. We sometimes, at least to some degree, think that God has overlooked our needs, or abandoned us... or forgotten about us.
Like the Psalmist: we cry out to God to hear our prayers... to avenge our losses... to comfort us in our sorrow and despair... And, sometimes we begin to believe that God no longer hears us, or that He’s too busy to bother with us, or to hear us.
But nothing could be further from the truth. God never tires of a conversation with you. He’s never too busy. No matter how many times you go to him... he’s always there, always listening... always working for our good.
The fact is: Sometimes we experience “conditional love” in this life... “I’ll love you if... you’re successful... if you’re good enough... or pretty enough... or smart enough.” Sometimes our love is conditional...
But that’s not how God loves you and me. God loves us with an “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
The Bible says in Colossians 2:14, “[God] canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.”
Living life for Christ doesn’t mean you’ll never sin... or that you’ll never make mistakes, or you’ll never do things you later regret.
But... thanks be to God... following Christ does erase our debt... and it frees us from the guilt of our failures... because in Christ we are forgiven. God understands our failures - and he loves us anyway. We belong to the One who loves us so much, that he sacrificed Himself - not to condemn us - but to bring us life!
That’s God’s grace! And that’s what we mean when we’re bold to say, “God is Good!”
Always remember: God’s goodness is NOT reflected in a “perfect” life, or a “perfect” world... It’s reflected in his perfect love towards us, in that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
God is good! He’s loving and compassionate... and his faithfulness towards us goes on and on... forever.