It’s so crazy in my head, and in here it makes sense, kind of. I wrote several drafts of this “Define Good/How Do You Know It’s Good?” post. One of them went a more biblically focused route with quotes from Romans 8 & Psalms galore. Lots of quotation marks around verses. But you all have access to the same bible I do, and can do your own research if that’s what you want to do. I am supposed to tell you my story—nothing more.
Another draft talked about good and bad sharing an existence in the same moment, the same event. This idea is epitomized in my statement that Ellen’s death was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Beautiful (good), does not inherently mean pretty (enjoyable). Washing her dead body was NOT pretty and ruined me for a long time. Sensing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth? Sensing through her death, and the moments around it, that I was as close to Heaven as I could ever be while still alive? Such a gift and a privilege… Cancer gave Ellen her devotion to God, and therefore peace, dignity, and strength in death (good). It also effing killed her (“bad”).
Then the idea of Greater Good came up, and I wrote about how something can hold pain & confusion now, but because of our humanity we are usually unable to see it’s purpose in the moment. Which opened up the idea of faith and belief that what He says is Truth, “We know that all things work out for good for those who love God and have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) How does one believe this, or any Scripture, to be true if one doesn’t believe that He is who He says He is: LOVE. GOODNESS. The modern, fundamentalist, Western church has done a phenomenal job at turning a God of Love, Goodness, and Grace into everything EXCEPT a God of Love, Goodness, and Grace. Sometimes (often even?) love means loving someone too much to let them continue doing damage to themselves and others (see parenthood), so I hope you are not hearing me say He is just a senile, old, benevolent Grandpa up there smiling and “loving” it all away. He loves with a fierceness and a fire we could never know. He is fair, righteous, just, merciful. He is good, and sometimes that means handing someone’s ass to them for the said Greater Good. He also has the best timing and sense of humor I’ve ever encountered…
Like I said, it started to get a little confusing in my brain parts……
Then I remembered a sermon my pastor gave a few months ago on John 9. I suggest you read it before continuing; it is actually really entertaining.
So Jesus decides to go and heal a blind man on the Sabbath, which was a huge insult to the religious culture of His day, it was an incredibly instigating action on His behalf. Then he takes it step further and says that nobody’s sin caused the man’s blindness, and he was sick so “that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Again, contrary to what the priests were teaching. So there’s something else going on here, right? There’s a greater good, an undercurrent. Does it suck that this poor man was branded an untouchable sinner and left blind for his entire life up to this point? Yes. But something incredible is about to happen to this man. Jesus spits in some dirt, rubs the mud onto the man’s broken eyes, and instructs him to go wash off the mud in a specific body of water. That’s intimate. Jesus put spitty mud onto a stranger’s eyes. Also, I sure hope this confused man had someone to walk him down to the water.
After washing off the mud, his eyes are opened, they are made new. He can see! Word gets out fast and he is summoned to the temple at the request of the religious leaders (the Pharisees). The dialogue that follows is so amusing to me. They interrogate him ruthlessly and threaten to kick him out of the temple, a very big deal with very real/hard repercussions. The man just simply answers all their tricky questions truthfully, he tells his story and nothing more. “I went and washed, and I received sight….I told you already….” The final straw for the Pharisees occurs in v. 30-34. This man gave a true testimony of what happened to him, and of the “prophet” who healed him, and was banished from temple life because the words he said did not match up with the Pharisees’ understanding of God.
Though he does barely enter into theology in v. 30-34, frankly, he doesn’t need it. He had a very personal interaction with Jesus (spitty eyes), his life was forever changed (sight), and that’s all he knew. “He spit in the dirt, put it on my eyes, I washed it off. Now I can see!”
I feel like that guy. Our world truly does ache, people hurt in every type of way, and here I am saying Guys, it all really IS good. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know anything other than that I was blind, He healed me, and now I can see! I don’t have the theology. I do, sort of, but it doesn’t hit all the nails on the head. And honestly, I don’t want theology or religion. I just want Jesus. I know some of what I’m saying doesn’t make sense, and I know some of it is difficult to read. Maybe it’s heresy. There’s a lot I don’t understand. But I’ve seen Him, I’ve felt that slimy healing concoction on my broken bits. I’ve spent lots of time tenderly washing it off; and with each gooey chunk that slides down off of me, a little more light sneaks in. A little more Truth. A little more Love. A little more Goodness.