GNB 116

September 30, 2022


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods, His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, His mercy endures forever.

(Psalm 136.1-3)


In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.19), Jesus proposes that anyone who sets aside the commands and the teachings of the Law will be called least. Jesus Himself declared “I have not come to abolish the Law but fulfill it.” He goes on to say, “But, those who practice and teach these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Who determines the assignment of the title “great” and “greatest of all time”? If we are true to our discipleship, then we know that it is God alone who will call us “Great,” if we are to truly be known as great. The title which is assigned to us by humankind is not measured by the same standard and thus may fail in comparison to authentic greatness. What then would make one truly great? Is it physical prowess, mental genius, financial wealth, business acumen, persuasive ability, a way with words or social prominence that really makes us great in the eyes of God? The Bible is filled with examples of people He called into service who lacked these attributes: David was a shepherd boy, Moses had an awkward tongue, a widow could contribute only a token, Rahab was a harlot and there are others. So, if not those attributes which the world uses to decide who is great, then what? I propose it is the perspective of “goodness” as we were lead in worship to declare through Psalm 136 yesterday. It is adopting, discovering, receiving and putting into practice the “goodness of God” that, in the end, will be recognized as the moment of greatness.

When the word “good” is used as an affirmation in the Creation Story, what does it signify? Basically, that “good” which God declares means “it accomplishes what God intended.” The existence of day, night, light, dark, sun, moon, stars, earth, water, land, plants, animals and literally ultimately humankind- male and female are good. When God is finished creating with the finishing touches on the image by which God created all things, He declares “It is good and very good.” If creation was a painting. the confirmation of “good and very good” would be like the artist affixing his or her signature on the work. We might say it is the artist’s way of saying “This is me. This is the way I see it.” It was not merely man and woman, male and female, human beings that were created in the image of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It was the bringing together of all things to work together for “good.” The goodness of God reflects the character and nature of God’s existence, purpose, desire and activity. It is His being that is fully expressed as the outpouring of who and what God is. The very name which God shared with Moses to bolster and authorize Moses’ execution of God’s justice to liberate the descendants of Jacob Israel from four hundred years of bondage captures the “goodness of God.” When Moses asked, “Who shall I say sent me?”, God replied “Say I AM that I AM has sent you.” It was not a name to be bandied about. It was special, holy, sanctified and awe-inspiring. It was not common nor insignificant, happenstance nor casual, simple nor simplifying. It was a name of power, dominion, authority and ultimate truth and reality. It summed up the goodness of God and became the flashpoint of liberation just as it was the flashpoint of creation. It was the light in the darkness of chaos which chaos could not control, inhibit, contradict nor consume. It was, is and will always be the light of life and from it emanates the essence of God: God’s goodness.

This is what we are intended to strive for, mighty ones of God, as disciples of God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ and Messiah of the world. We are to be good as good has been offered to us. It is not merely our actions and our words but our character and mentality. We are to strive to reflect the image of God as those who are doing and being whom God has created. He has destined His people for greatness. That greatness, however, is the product of the goodness of God in us and through us. It should make sense to you, and it does to me, that when people see “us” they see the Jesus in us. We ought to be satisfied to hear someone say “You are the spitting image of your Father.” And maybe that “spitting image” is the product of when Jesus takes some dirt in the palm of His hand, adds some spittle to it and then puts the paste over our eyes. When it is washed away so, too, is our blindness to the truth. With renewed vision we see ourselves as we are intended. By that renewed vision we are seen by others as God intended. What is that vision? It is, of course, the vision of the nature and being of Jesus, God’s son in flesh and spirit. It is the embodiment of true righteousness in which we are clothed in forgiveness, mercy and grace just as were Adam and Eve after their satanic demise and demoralization. The God who had spoken “good and very good” over them now covered them with His own sovereign forgiveness and spiritual affirmation. Their greatness would come in their pursuit of the goodness of God. They were to live beyond the temptation and subdue their passion for self with a true surrender to God. And they were not to surrender in shame and fear but in awe and wonder.. We can join with them in the same endeavor with another antiphonal worship celebration that says “God is good all the time. All the time God is good.” Yes, Jesus deferred the title of “good Teacher” saying “Why call Me good when it is God alone who is good.” But, Jesus was not denying the goodness of God that was in Him and working through Him. He was modelling for them and for us the true purpose of our lives- we are to reflect the goodness which is only of God. As we grow into the full measure and stature of Christ this is exactly what we are doing. And in doing so, we truly feel good and feel the goodness of God at work in us. And that is “good and very good.”


Father, You are truly good and Your mercy endures forever. You are truly good and Your righteousness endures forever. You are very good and Your love endures forever. We are grateful. May our gratitude become visible in all we say and do as befits the glory of God who has made us, called us, sustains us, strengthens us and sanctifies us for good service, worship and ministry in this world as we shall in the next by Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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