We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that exclaims “It’s All Good.” I once worked with a woman of authority in a small Baptist church whose car had one of those stickers. She took some heat for it but, as far as I know, it is still prominently displayed on her car. The “heat” would come in the form of gentle corrections, nudges, or reminders. Some would say “All things work together for good.” Someone else would add “for those who love God.” And finally, one in ten would cap off this important principle adding “and are called in accordance with his purpose.”
We’ve most likely known people for whom it seems everything that can go wrong does go wrong. I have lived a significant portion of my own life on what some might call a shoe-string budget or at a subsistence level. And I know, from personal experience, why the Gospel of Jesus resonated with the poorest of the poor. I look back upon such challenging times as a series of blessings in disguise.
For some, the idea of independence is aspirational. But for others, there is no such thing as independence. Pontificating politicians drone on endlessly about energy independence, even though they are themselves trapped in patterns of fossilized thought. Even those worshiping at the alter and feeding at the trough of fossil fuels fail to recognize that, without solar energy, there would have been no photosynthesis and therefore no leaves with which to feed their pet brontosaurus. There is no way to avoid the fact that everything on this side of the sun depends on solar energy, and its byproduct, biofuel.
Sometimes we need paradigm shifts in our patterns of thought. Jesus focused primarily on the desperately poor, the marginalized, the least connected to, or vested in, the economy of the rich and powerful. And he did this because there is something beautiful and serviceable about an attitude of appreciation. While this simple truth is entirely lost on the self-satisfied, Jesus warned that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” For those who are religiously atheistic, none of this makes sense. But to those for whom the true Gospel resonates, it is everything, In part this is because those who value a relationship, with the only real powers that be, are constantly refreshed and renewed in a way that removes all doubt.
When Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” he gave us the keys to the Kingdom. Those keys are sincerity, sincerity, and more sincerity. For as the master locksmith made abundantly clear, only those wiling to engage in honest introspection are qualified to enter. The spiritually blind Pharisee was told to first clean the inside of the cup so that the outside may also be clean. In other words we are each admonished to examine and change our inner selves. And, as we better conform to God’s precepts, our public lives and deeds will reflect essential truths and become shining examples for the ultimate benefit of all.
An onward and upward trajectory is dependent upon our innermost understanding of Divinity. This is the unifying and coordinating quality that draws us near and into the heart of God. Arrayed along this drawstring, like glimmering pearls, are God’s Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. When Jesus asked “Why do you call me good,” he then made it clear that there is only one First Source and Center of all that is Divine.
God’s goodness can only be understood in the light of his personality, for only a person can love and be loved. His desire to elevate all of us so that we may share in his Divine perfection, insures our high destiny, should we choose to accept it. When we understand that we have an all-powerful benefactor, who is so affectionate and so dedicated to perfecting us through his uplifting ministry, our most appropriate response is one of appreciation. It is through the expression of such appreciation that we begin to reflect the inner beauty that also originates with our loving God.
Erroneous ideas about a self-contained or self-centered God simply recede as the truth of his generosity takes hold. We develop further appreciation, of the way God has bestowed upon us a spirit complement, to indwell and envelop us, as we become ever more responsive to Divine leading. The Promised Helper, that Jesus called the Spirit of Truth, is fully capable of leading us into all truth. For this to happen, as intended, we must let go of any security blanket that might hold us back. We must “put away childish things.”
Our world’s advancement depends upon our individual advancement. At some point our standing as a planet will rise. We will become worthy of a place in the cosmos where echos shine and reflections ring. Our posterity will someday enjoy an Era of Light and Life. Only there and then will the statement “It’s All Good” ring true.