Friday, February 17, 2012

What is Good?

How do we define what is good?  Is good what makes me happy?  Is good defined by my perspective or my experience?  Does it depend on my state of mind?  Can good ever be bad?  Is good subjective or objective?  Does it change?  "This tastes good." "He's a good basketball player." "They're good people." "I feel good."  "Way to be a good loser."  "Good guys come out last." "God is good."  These are all common uses of the English word "good" so how can this be a consistent use of the same word? How can words truly reflect the meaning in this case?  Is God's goodness on the same level with food that tastes good?

Most people agree easily that comparing God's goodness with food's tastiness is grossly inaccurate and inappropriate; however, many of those same people think nothing of unconsciously comparing their perspective of God's goodness with the concept of having a "good day" versus a "bad day."  I might consider my day good if I am on time to work, my coworkers are in a good mood, things go smoothly at work, I get off a couple minutes early, my favorite show is funny, and dinner is tasty.  I may also consider God good if He gives me a day like that or perhaps several days like that in a row.  How is that much different from comparing God's goodness with the appealing side of food?  Is God still good if I'm late to work and it's raining all day?  That sounds a bit trite, doesn't it?  How about making it a little more where reality hits us?  Is God still good if my car gets hit by a bus and I lose my arm?  Is God still good if I can't pay my bills and my house gets foreclosed on?  Is God still good if my parent or grandparent dies?  Well?  Using the earlier provided definitions I could only reach one obvious conclusion--no.  He could not possibly be good and let something that horrific and painful to be a part of my day.  This is where a lot of us get stuck in our reasoning and our feelings.  We provide our own standard of good and expect God to keep in line and stay within our guidelines.

But what if we stopped for just long enough to realize that our definition of good might be wrong?  What if good is not what we define--good is not what makes us happy, but actually there is objective good that is universally the same.  If there is really only one objective good, then who can be more worthy or responsible to set that standard of good than the only Almighty God Himself?  So the question becomes a little clearer.  God is not good because He matches my personal opinion of good.  He is good because that is Who He is, and we obtain our very concept of good from Him.  He allows what we perceive as bad to come into our lives, because from Him it is always good.  Perhaps instead of trying to bend God into our idea of what pleases us, we should accept that good only comes from God, and when our perception of situations makes God look bad, it is our perception that is skewed, not the reality of the situation.

I have attempted to keep these statements and assertions if the "what if" stage.  I have made conscious effort to do so for a few reasons.  For one thing, I don't see it as my job to tell anyone else what to think, but I do feel responsible to share what I am thinking and present it as a possibility.  On another note, truth is more life-changing when it is embraced rather than bellowed.  We will not change as the result of truth crammed down our throats.  We change when we chew on it and eventually digest it.  I am hopeful that as this truth sinks into my thinking pattern, it changes me.  That's the beauty of truth, when you actually know it--it changes you.