Good is God-All the Time

Good is God… All the Time

(Let’s Talk About “God” Language)

First Scripture:  Psalm 112:4-6 

4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,

for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.

5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,

who conducts his affairs with justice.

6 Surely he will never be shaken;

a righteous man will be remembered forever.

 

Second Scripture:  3 John 1:11

11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

 

Sermon

Good is God…All the time!

I will say it again, Good is God…All the time!

Did you hear something different?

How do you understand God?

How do you understand the Bible?

Let us talk about “God” language.

Let us learn together that words matter, …language matters.

Let us not operate only on tradition, what is comfortable, what has become orthodox.

Let us think and act and respond from authentic and critical understanding and from a sense of empathy and inclusion.

What do different sorts of Christians mean when they speak of God?

he common, the orthodox view of God, the one that most is most often accepted without question or reflection is of a single, a discrete, all powerful being (usually a Him) that is separate from and above the physical universe.  This view is how most of us were indoctrinated into a Christian religion.

This understanding of God is congruent with a literal, fundamentalist acceptance of the language and authority of the Hebrew Bible and the commonly accepted Christian cannon.  This view is what the Hebrew scribes and authors of Christian cannon offer us.  The use of singular male pronouns and the use of royal references such lord and servant from eras long past fit this view of an almighty God and his inerrant and authoritative word.

BUT, if this view is accepted, if we read the any one of the accepted versions of the Christian Bible, what do we find that we then must then believe?

If the Bible, the definitive and inerrant “Word of God Above” is authoritative and complete, what must be accepted?

Start with 2 Timothy 3:16.  It says unequivocally,  “Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

That is pretty clear.  Let’s accept that premise for now.

Scripture is divinely inspired, not some scripture, not most scripture, not just the verses we like.  What word, what inerrant and authoritative instruction has God given us in his book to guide or lives?

We have some unambigous instruction about the place of women, at home and in church.

Ephesians 5:22-24 …wives should submit to their husbands.

1 Timothy 2:11-15 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35 …women should remain silent in the churches.

1 Corinthians 11:3-16 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Peter 3:1-6 Wives in the same way be submissive to your husbands.

Titus 2: 4-5 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the word of God.

We learn how God feels about children not born as part of a traditional marriage.

Deuteronomy 23:2 One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the congregation of the Lord.

God gives us the place of conquered peoples in his order.

Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.

Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

Titus 2:9 Slaves are to be submissive to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back .

1 Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.

Specific instruction is given for dealing with household discord.

Exodus 21:15  Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

21:17  Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death. – (RSV).

Exodus 21:20  When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished for the slave is his money. – (RSV).

We learn God’s intention for conquered nations.

Numbers 31:17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18 But all the young girls that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. – (RSV).

God is good?…All the time?

The Word of God?..Thanks be to God?

I think NOT!

(And I have much omitted out of a sense of propriety.)

There are other concepts and other ways of seeking and understanding something we call God; other language that can be used in finding an approach to life’s greatest questions.

When trying to articulate an understanding of God, some may talk about the unbounded power of subatomic physics, of a universe begun with an intensely concentrated bit of matter, a  big bang and everything that followed. They talk about the sense of awe and wonder  when they ponder how everything came to be.

Or it may be that when some speak of God, they are talking about the way human beings recognize how the world is, a world that is a terrible mess and they know it ought to be filled with justice and peace.   They speak of a sense of being more, seeing more, understanding more as they commit themselves to being as fully human as they can be. Committing themselves to be a part of bringing that peace and justice.

The God metaphor preferred by many Christians is the one that appears in the gospel of John: “God is love.” The Biblical editor using the name of John, did not say that God is loving or that God gives us love, but that God is love. Followers of Jesus often talk about an experience of love as if it were an experience of God.

These are not understandings of God to be found in a consistent readings of the Bible as an inerrant and complete text.

These are not views of a God creature above and apart from creation.

These are not the views or language of God so often offered in our liturgy, Christian music, intercessory prayer or from the pulpit.

Let me take you back now to our scriptures for today.

From Psalm 112

4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.

Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.

6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.

And from Third John

11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

What is revealed in these verses when we use a different way of trying to approach the idea and language of God?

If a literal and inerrant understanding of scripture and the idea of “God Almighty Above” is found to be incomplete and inconsistent, what can these verses reveal?  If that God of the literal and authoritative Bible is NOT good…All the time.  What can these other ways of understanding God and scripture have to offer?

Here is what we can find.

Here is a concept of God that can work.

I offer it for your reflection.

Where you find good, you find God.

When you experience good, you experience God.

When you do what is good, you do what is God.

Good is God…All the time!

Review & Commentary

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