Good or evil?
The following quotes are part of the conversation in “The Shack“ (pp 134-136) that I intentionally left out in my last post. God explains there to Mac why our parameters for deciding what is good and what is evil are often wrong.
“Evil is the word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light or death to describe the absence of Life. Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence. I am Light and I am Good. I am Love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist. So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can only draw upon yourself. This is death because you have separated yourself from me: Life.”
I have contemplated this a lot and found it really helpful. As long as we discern good and evil based on our subjective feelings and perception, we will often get it wrong and miss how “bad” things can be “good” for us. And this in turn will undermine our trust in God. Only when we understand that God’s presence makes something good and his absence makes something evil, can we understand that “in one instance, the good may be the presence of cancer or the loss of income – or even a life.”
It is often the hard things that drive us into God’s presence, mold our character and transform us into his image. Unfortunately, difficult times seem to be the only way we learn and experience transformation.
This also sheds a different light on our pursuit of independence. Being independent from God removes us from the Vine. We are called to remain in Him, abide in Him, because apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) A well known passage, but how often do we manage to put it into practice? 🙂
What does it mean to practice it? Here is what Mac heard God say to him about this:
“You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil in your own terms. This is a hard pill to swallow; choosing to only live in me. To do that you know me enough to trust me and learn to rest in my inherent goodness.”
So this brings us back to the issue of trust. If we decide on our own what is good and bad, we easily come to the conclusion God is not trustworthy. Or as Wayne Jacobsen puts it – we practice a “Daisy Pedal Christianity” (He loves me!) going back and forth between “God loves me” and “God loves me not” depending on whether things happening in our life are “good” or “bad” according to our subjective perception. Whenever we don’t like what is happening to us, we conclude that God does not love us, instead of looking for the good God intended with it.
I know, it is not easy to apply this in some extreme situations, but why not start with every day situations and try to see them through God’s eyes? I have been mulling over this topic for some time. It was a pleasant surprise recently, when I experienced a very disappointing situation and in the middle of it was able to hold back on my subjective judgment, but trust that God has good plans for his children. (More about it in a future post)