“How are people supposed to believe that God is good?”
That was the question posed to us probably ten times by Gary Haugen (that’s him on the right) at the Willow simulcast today. Gary works with grave injustice in our world, like child prostitution and exploitation. How, he asked, is a twelve year old girl beaten and trapped in a Saigon brothel supposed to believe that God is good?
The answer is that God’s people must be his hands and his feet. We must fight injustice and rescue the oppressed. The preoccupation of the church must be convincing the world that God is good by proving it with our lives.
It got me thinking that the last few generations were probably trying to answer a different question: “How are people supposed to know that God is holy?” Many churches focused on holy living and strict morality. Outward goodness. Making sure the church was pure and upheld strict standards, for example, raising the bar on who could and couldn’t get baptised and excommunicating people who made us look bad. The world had to know that God is holy, I guess. The problem is, I’ve never met an unbeliever haunted by that question. They could care less whether God is holy.
Now, I know that God’s holiness is important. I just preached a three part sermon series on his holiness this Spring. But that’s not the question haunting our society. The question I hear more than any others is the one I originally posed: Is God good? How would I know?
Well, I suppose if his children were good — meaning, full of radical, practical kindness — the world would already have its answer.