Skip to content

A conversation about faith

October 27, 2010
tags:

So my buddy Jeff posted a question recently from Philip Yancey. And I commented, and a friend of mine – who shall remain nameless unless he chooses to identify himself – emailed me about it. We’ve been discussing the idea via email, and I thought I’d share the conversation and get your thoughts.

The original post is here, but the question is, “What good is God?”

My comment:

I’m with Jesse.

“What good is God?” is a pretty arrogant question, and one that I don’t think any of us have the right to ask.

Is God not good because He didn’t answer Job right away?
Is God not good because He let Stephen – and countless martyrs since – die?

We forget that we deserve death and hell. We forget that it’s not God who pushes us around, but us who push Him away. It’s our sin that caused that great divide, that created the doorway for sin to enter the world, and that heaps evil on the world.

God grants forgiveness. He gives us peace and purpose – and every good thing – like Joshua mentioned, but even if He didn’t, He’s still good. If every one of us was on a non-stop flight to eternal torment it wouldn’t make Him any less good.

I fact that any one of us is alive and breathing with the sense and free will to ask such a question without being snuffed out is evidence enough of how good He is to us.

He is good because He is I AM. Not because of anything (else) He does for us.

The first email from Friend: 

But he does good things for us … right?

Me:

:) Sure. EVERY good thing according to the book. But that’s not what He’s good for. Can the clay say to the Potter … ?

Friend:

I hear that. I just think that there needs to be room for some healthy skepticism in the church. I don’t think you disagree, right? If so, what does that look like?

Me:

Skepticism regarding what, specifically? If regarding God’s existence or goodness, then I do disagree.

The Church is supposed to be Christ’s representative on the earth. We’re charged with going into the world and making disciples. No where in the New Testament do I see Jesus or the disciples allowing that maybe God’s not real, or maybe He’s not good.

I think there should be room for skeptics in the church. We should be able to be patient and kind and capable of having good conversations with people who are doubting or unsure. But I think we can do that without wavering in our faith.

More than “can,” I think the church in the U.S. especially HAS to be able to do it without wavering. Our entire society is so self-centered and self-serving that it’s infected our faith. Though it seem counter-intuitive, I think it’s the Church’s responsibility to wake people up to the reality that the world doesn’t actually revolve around them. God is not their stock broker or personal assistant, and faith is not about what He is going to do for them.

Yes He does good and He helps us (sometimes), but we’re told to seek first … and then those things will be added to us. Do we trust that His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours?

Friend:

A practical example of where skepticism in the church is a healthy thing is with the charismatic movement. I personally believe God can and does manifest himself in unusual ways, but we ought to be skeptical when it comes to emotionalism and sensationalism in the church, as those have been abused before to justify all kinds of kooky behavior.

Me:

I hear that. I totally agree that we should be discerning, and that the leaders of a local church should be trusted to judge, concerning what goes on in our meetings, etc. I don’t think we need to be skeptical, or discerning, regarding the goodness of God or His character, but we definitely need to keep an eye on people.

Friend:

Right. So, the question is not, “Is God good?” The question is, “What good is God?” … at the root of the question, I think is this: “What good is the belief in God?”

And that, I believe, is a very good question — for me and you. What good is our faith in the here and now?

Me:

Ya. I mean, I got the question the first time. … and I see that it’s getting at that, “What good is the belief in God?” question.

But it still just strikes me as an arrogant, self-centered and kind of consumer-oriented question.

Do we believe in (much less live for, or surrender our lives to) God because of what He can do for us, or do we do it because He loved us first? Is He our Get Out of Jail Free card, or our Lord who died for us? Is our faith only about “here and now,” or is it bigger than that?

Honestly, it reminds me of this video I saw on YouTube … I’m’a find it for you. Ha. Here:


I wonder what the reaction would be if you posed that question to a believer in North Korea. His faith in God isn’t good for anything but harassment and torment in the here and now.
That’s where it stands as we go to press. Thoughts?
Advertisements
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacob permalink
    October 28, 2010 10:18 am

    The question, “What good is belief in God?” seems to me and most likely others as childish and self-centered. One thing we have to remember, if we were created by God then as Lex pointed out the book of Isaiah, “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing?” How then can we ask God what good is he, so we must first remember why we were created. Remember we are created for Him and His glory not the other way around. The problem with American Christianity is that American ideology has a dynamic impact with our way of thinking. Take the Government, “its job is to help me where I’m at, so that’s the politian I’m voting for” which then transfers right into our thoughts about God. “Why isn’t he doing more in my community, my life?” Not trying to brush off that question as if it unimportant, but we are looking at it the wrong way. In looking at, “Why isn’t God more evident” we must look at the counter part of that question, “Am I allowing God to be more evident in my life?” That’s where the question should pointed, so are we asking Jesus for his help and guidance, bringing our guilt, fears, insecurities, broken homes, and broken communities to the foot of the cross and letting them die? If so, than this is a promise that Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” This is hope, that if we let the fears and betrayal in our life die, that Christ will rise up New fruit in our lives…for his glory. One thing we must remember when it rises up, it’s in his way and his timing. That is why belief in God is great.

  2. October 29, 2010 4:02 pm

    I had a similar conversation with someone at http://www.soulpancake.com recently.

    I think maybe what this (currently) nameless person is asking is this: “What makes a good person?” Not merely “What good is the belief in God?”

    From the consumeristic perspective, you’re right. It comes across like, “what will make me better and more “good” because of my belief in God?” Because there are a lot of people doing a lot of Good in this world who do not follow Christ. Sometimes they are way better at loving and serving than Christians are. So, what good does our belief in God do to a person’s ability to help and serve others and to “be a good person” (whatever that means. That’s an entirely separate post for another day) :-)

    I could see the thought behind this questions being something like this: “I don’t see much of a difference in the lives of people who believe in God compared to those who do not… so… What good is the belief in God?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s