The Gospel of Beauty, Goodness and Truth: Goodness!
What is the story that is guiding your life? What is influencing you the most right now? What is the big God story that you have? Does the story help guide you, and tell you who you are? What’s your purpose in life? What you want to do? You have to think about these things. You are driven to find some answers!
Now it would seem to me that many people in the church have or have had, a Fear based story. We came to the Lord, because we were burdened by sin and needed a Savior. We wanted to be spared the wrath of God and avoid being sent to Hell.
Part of this Fear based story is true. The substitutionary death and atonement of Jesus Christ is necessary. You and I need to be reconciled to God. But there is another way to tell the story. The Fear based story, tends to leave people with guilt and shame, they worry that their salvation is incomplete, have I done enough, am I good enough and they are robbed of the joy of their salvation!
A belief and understanding of the substitutionary death and atonement is a necessary part of the story. But, “just as one puzzle piece cannot reveal the whole puzzle, so one part cannot tell the whole story.” If you say: “Substitutionary atonement is the gospel” you are missing something of the story; and then it becomes too easily distorted!
What if the story is a “Loved Based story?” God sent us His one and only Son to demonstrate His great love for us. Here is a very simple definition of Love, Love is to will and act for the good of another person!” To give your life to the story, the Gospel, it needs to have Beauty, Goodness and Truth! Beauty, Goodness and Truth, all three are necessary to help complete the story, and all three complement Love. That is the story worth sharing, and that is the story worth living into it!
What is Beauty? Thomas Aquinas said, “Beauty is a mystery. Beauty is that which when we see it, and experience it, it is pleasing.” Beauty makes us say; “Wow!” Goodness makes us say: “Thanks!” Bene is Latin for good, in the Latin, bene is benefit: it makes us whole, it improves us, so, when we encounter goodness we say: Thank you! Then truth is aligned with reality. You can count on truth. It works, so when you interact with truth, we say: “Yes!”
We spent some time looking at God’s love for us and at Beauty, last week. Now we are ready to look at Goodness. Let’s start with our meditation verse from Psalms 84.
Psalms 84:11 “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”
Here we have a glimpse of the Character of God’s goodness. The Psalmist tells us that God’s goodness is like a “sun and a shield.” The bright dazzling sun represents energy. God’s goodness is like the light that brightens our path, the warmth that comforts us, the “Sun that energizes us to do good things to bless other people. The sun never runs out of energy and God never runs out of blessings He wants to share with His children. AND, God is like a shield, to defend and protect us. So, God’s goodness goes before us to light our path and to provide protection along the way. That is a benefit that helps make us whole, and it definitely improves us!
Now, there is another promise attached to this verse, “For those who do what is right, for those who earnestly are trying to follow Jesus, the Lord promises not to withhold the good he has planned for them!” At every opportunity God desires to show forth His goodness to you!
We see the goodness of Jesus as he goes from town and village, teaching about the Kingdom of God, and healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. In Acts 10:38, Luke makes this notation:
Acts 10:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Jesus cared for the people so much, he wanted to do good for them. How much more because he loves you does, he want to do good for you?
Even the story of the “Women at the Well” shows Jesus doing something good.
John 4:6“Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.”
Verse 6 helps set up the story. Jesus and the disciples left Judea to go to Galilee, the shortest way was directly through Samaria. Jesus is tired and hungry from the journey and he sits down by Jacob’s well. It is noon time.
John 4:7-8 “There came a woman of Samar′ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.”
Consider, in that culture and time, a Jewish man didn’t talk to a woman--not his wife or family member. Maybe to a close friend of the family or the next-door neighbor. A Jewish Rabbi does not talk to a woman, does not never talk to a Samaritan woman. Especially a Samaritan woman of sin. Look, she is coming to the well at noon time, not in the early morning when all the other women would come to get the day’s supply of water. She doesn’t want to hear them say bad things about her or question her past and stir up her shame. They always make her feel unwanted. Yet, Jesus is good to her, he responds to her as a whole person.
Here is Jesus, engaging her: “Give me a drink.” “Give me a cup of that cool water?”
John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar′ia?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
The woman opens the door for more conversation, but I detect a little attitude: “How is it that you a Jew ask me for a drink?”
John 4:10-11 “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water?”
Jesus could have been judgmental and shamed the woman; but instead he offered her hope with a thirst for living water! She didn’t understand the spiritual truth he was talking about, but she was very interested in the living water. She responded in the natural to his spiritual statement, “Sir you don’t have a bucket to draw with or even a cup? How can you give me living water?”
John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus makes it pretty clear, that he is not talking about giving her the water in Jacob’s well. His “living water” is a new life, a fresh start and it will bubble up like a fountain inside of you when the Holy Spirit comes to live in your heart. This living water gives you eternal life!
John 4:23-26 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
God is Spirit, you need the Holy Spirit active and living in your heart to worship God in spirit and in truth. The Holy Spirit helps us in our worship, to approach God, to remind us of Scripture and to engage the truth. The Holy Spirit helps us to connect with God and add meaning to our worship.
The woman went back into the city and began to tell people that she met a man that told her- life story to her; and that she could start a new story. Her life could begin a fresh!
Part of the goodness of God is that He wants to improve your story. He wants you to have life and live it to the fullest
John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
God knows that your life will be richer and fuller when you know your purpose: why were you created? What am I supposed to do with my life? What gives your life meaning? What role does God play in my life?
Because God loves you, He desires to improve your life, to help you grow into a fullness and completeness that you were created for. God calls us to share our time, our talents and our witness that others might be blessed by God’s goodness. When you realize He is always with you and his goodness surrounds you to bless you and protect you, it frees you from worry and you discover His peace and joy. You see, living water, is life giving, the Lord wants you to trust in Him and He will provide for your needs.
May God bless you with His goodness and grace.