Let's take it back to where it all began:
Four years old.
My first conscious memory of picking up a bible and reading it.
A bunch of Matthew son of John's and Thou shall not's and listen to Mom and Dad's (my childlike understanding of Exodus 20:12).
And, I mean, whoever this Jesus guy is, I thought, He must be pretty lame!
But, He loves me! I was told in Sunday morning chapel.
And, He's really good.
He's got a plan for my life that's fruitful and not for disaster...
...but, don't make Him mad!
Don't strike the rock like Moses did! That might be your last shot.
After all, the rapture is coming soon!!!
If you're furrowing your eyebrow and scratching your head, imagine how I felt from ages 5-8.
With my underdeveloped brain, you bet your tail I conjured up all kinds of versions of what God was like in my head based solely off of what I heard and observed. I believed that God was kind and mean all in one, loving and harsh at the same time, good and bad—dependent on if He liked you or not.
I'll say it for you:
This kind of thinking is wild—absolutely untrue.
Before I move on, I have got to add that any leader who might've contributed to my poor eight-year-old ideas of what God might be like had the best intention for me. Truly! From my Sunday morning school instructors to my Wednesday night bible study leaders to the teachers at my Christian school (I couldn't get away from church even if I tried), they all did what they could to ensure I didn't depart from the way and will of God.
And, it worked! I didn't.
But—it didn't necessarily vacuum away the remnants of all of my misconceptions about The One who loves me most.
Can you relate?
I hope so.
Because when I made the decision to follow God for myself early on in my high school career, I felt like I was the only believer who wrestled with seeing God for who He really was. Sometimes I'd watch believers make these bold, striking, faith-filled declarations about His goodness and His love, and I could tell they really believed it. But, often times, my eight-year-old self would rear its head and whisper in my ear: "He might be good and loving, but don't forget how He punishes." *Cue a bunch of terrifying stories in the Old Testament that I never fully understood.*
Much of my faith journey was spent thinking just like this.
'Cause even in a Christian's attempt to explain away some of the Lord's frightening commands in the book of Deuteronomy, often times, I would struggle to view God as totally good.
But, before you think I used to blaspheme, I'm here to testify that He is.
You might be expecting me to say I learned that the hard way, but actually, He made it quite easy.
There are a handful of things I had to dismantle in my mind, and especially, in my heart to see God as fully, all-the-way good—hence the title of today's blog post: Everything about God is all good. However, if you're skeptical the way I was at one point, I'm writing this post just for you. Not to condemn you, of course, but to 1) express that I can relate to a lot of your doubt and 2) provide the truth about His character once and for all by first taking some honest looks at why you and I doubted so hard in the first place.
Let's start with a reason here:
1) The leader/pastor/friend/mentor who taught you that God is loving did a poor job of demonstrating the love of God themselves.
Before you react, think about it. If you tell a kid that this awesome, beautiful, amazing God is deeply in love with them, and then you brutally insult another kid in the group as a way to establish punishment, chances are the kid is going to think God is just as loving and just as mean as you've shown them to be. (I may or may not be speaking from experience.) Or, you tell a kid God cares about them, but don't show them that you care yourself, do you expect them to really believe God cares for them? Just think about it.
When the one who teaches you about God doesn't display godly character, it's easy to believe a handful of false narratives about what God is actually like. If you're honest and willing to take the time to reflect on how this might've played out in your own life, a certain memory might come to mind where you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
The good news is that God is unlike any person you have ever and will ever meet. The Scriptures are littered with this truth.
There is no one like Him, says 1 Chronicles 17:20.
His ways are perfect, says Psalms 18:30.
And, my favorite? Jesus says in Matthew 11:29 that because His heart is gentle and lowly, He is actually qualified to teach us. That's been the verse to help me separate the God I've been taught from the God He actually is.
Jesus is gentle, not harsh.
Jesus is all the way good.
And, it's about time to forgive that leader, parent, teacher, or pastor who didn't lead you to that conclusion by processing your pain with the Lord, trusting that He'll send a therapist or a mentor to sit with you as you grieve. Your pain is valid, so take the time you need. However, never expect a human to be perfect. No one is. Only the Lord. Take your childlike expectation off of leaders to be without fault, and don't hold it against them when they're not. Instead, rejoice in the fact that the mean God they portrayed isn't at all true.
Which leads me to my next point...
2) God is all the way good.
The verse that has been blessing my socks off lately is 1 John 1:5, which says in the NLT:
"This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all."
Heavy emphasis on the: AT ALL.
Meaning, if you've been taught that God is good, but He has a bad side that you have to commit your whole life to staying out of, that is not true.
Unbelievably untrue, might I add.
First John 1:5 is the best verse to use, in my opinion, to support the statement I openly made in the title of today's blog: God is all good. To suggest He has a bad side is saying that there is a little darkness in Him, and 1 John 1:5 doesn't provide any proof of darkness. I repeat—the Scripture says, God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. Where did we get the belief that He has a bad side? Don't you know we oughta be careful what we teach? Due to the fact that I've been a victim of being scared into salvation many times as a kid, dismantling this unbiblical mindset is quickly becoming my life's mission. We need to teach again that God is all the way good. Our minds can't even comprehend how good He is. Just to give you an idea of what my personal mind is like, I teared up the other day as an older man (maybe mid-70s) intentionally went out of his way to hold the door open for me while walking out with his wife. I went to my car tearing up and thanking God that good people still exist. And, y'all, if that messes me up, I know there is no way I would ever be able to compute and handle the goodness of God. He is way more good than your definition of good. In fact, I would argue that our definition of good is incredibly weak when compared to how good good can get in the Lord. It's no wonder in the beginning, all God can say about His work is that it is good—very good, Genesis 1:31 adds. It's who He is! Not to mention, Romans 8:28. No wonder He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Anything God touches turns to good!
Ever think about what the "gospel" means in the first place? Good news. No surprise there.
Good is who God is.
Good is what God does.
There is no darkness in Him at all.
But, where there is darkness? Where there is no light?
Here's where many of your Old Testament questions can be answered:
3) Sin is all the way bad.
For those of you not yet convinced about the goodness of God, maybe still skeptical as I was for many years, it's about time to talk about something that is bad, that is darkness itself:
And, for that purpose, you and I are about to brave the Old Testament.
Because, I get it! Many of you have verses swirling around in your head about God's condemning hail and brimstone, and you're pretty sure it came from somewhere in the Old Testament. But, what you and I are going to do is what many don't have the audacity to:
Study the Bible.
We're not just going to read the Bible, but actually study it.
Meaning, we're going to look for context.
We're going to consider the setting, the people, the plot, God's heart in it all.
There's a lot more to the Bible than just merely reading it. If you only glance it at, you're going to have a high chance of misinterpreting it.
So, let's take a look at an Old Testament verse in the Bible, shall we? The scariest verse of all, in my opinion.
Genesis 6:6 NIV.
"The Lord regretted that He had made human beings on the earth, and His heart was deeply troubled."
God regretted making us?!
As someone who has dealt with a lot of self-esteem issues, that verse doesn't necessarily tickle my fancy. Why would this oh-so-loving, oh-so-good God regret making us?!?!?
Let's consider the verse before Genesis 6:6—Genesis 6:5, which says:
"The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they [human beings] thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil."
Notice the difference between 1 John 1:5 and Genesis 6:5.
1 John 1:5 describes God as total light with no darkness.
Genesis 6:5 describes sin as total darkness with no light.
And, with sin that totally out of control—where every thought, word, act, and even imagination was consumed with it—you don't just merely prescribe sin with something so its symptoms aren't as bad. You don't try to tame sin as a way to get rid of it once and for all. You kidding? That's like pouring an 8-ounce water bottle on a house fire.
No. You get rid of sin by wiping it out completely.
The only way to destroy sin is to kill it once and for all.
We learn this later on in Scripture in Romans 6:23. The wages of sin is death.
In order to kill sin, something has to die.
And, at this point in Scripture, when Genesis 6:5 was happening in real time, Genesis 6:6 lets us know how God felt about it:
It grieved His very soul.
The Lord knew that in order to get rid of sin once and for all, there had to be death. There was no way around it. And, it made God sick when He recognized that His creation—at that point in time with no perfect sacrifice present—would be the one to pay.
That is why Scriptures says He regretted making us.
You need to understand that His regret doesn't mean Psalms 139:14 was a typo. His regret doesn't mean He hates you or that there is darkness in Him after all.
Instead, it means He would rather us stay unborn than watch us die for our sins.
It means He regretted breathing life into dust, because now? The being He created has to pay the price.
And, it grieved His soul so bad, He already decided before the very beginning of time to do something about it. He couldn't stand the thought of us dying for our sins, so He put on flesh, came on down, and died for it for us.
Genesis 6:6 says God regretted making us because He would rather die for our sins than let us die for our sins. He would rather make light consume darkness than darkness consume the light. Don't you know what He Himself said in John 3:16? He so loved us that He made light available to anyone who believed in Him—that those who believe in Him won't have to perish for their own sins, but have everlasting life in Him! Second Peter 3:9 even states that He doesn't want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to repent so that they can live in the light! Jonah 4:2, anyone? The prophet knew the Lord is always eager to relent, not wanting anyone to die for their own sins.
And, the Lord didn't just mean this with mere words. He demonstrated this with His very own life, laying it down for us so we would never have to.
That sounds like a good God to me! Maybe even a little too good.
Not many would die for a righteous person, Paul said, but to die for sinners?
THAT'S A GOOD GOD!
Which, this would be a good time to mention that the very reason death exists is because sin did first. The first moment of disobedience in the garden guaranteed death to occur here on earth.
But, God in His goodness did not let death have the final say. Because of Him, we can have abundant life here on earth and eternal life with Him in heaven.
Because God is good. And, there is no darkness nor death in Him at all. He is all good.
Sin is all bad.
There's no life or light in sin at all. And, the very reason why God hates sin so much is because He loves us so much. And, He would rather die for our sins than have us die for our sins.
And, so He did.
Which leads me to invite the few of you who want to give your heart to God the opportunity to say yes to Him—those of you who have read this and want to experience that goodness for yourself. There's no better time than right now to receive His salvation. For those of you who have been convinced that He hates you, that you've gone too far, that He's never going to let the things of your past go—
That's not true. None of it is.
He wants your heart, no matter what condition it's in.
And, because God is all good, He is also all-trustworthy. You don't have to worry about Him stabbing you in the back, becoming a different person, dreaming up some really evil ways to make you pay for your sin.
No. He loves you so much, it literally drove Him to death.
So, ask Him! Ask Him to be Lord of your life. Ask Him to open your eyes so you can see Him—the real Him. Because as much as I didn't believe it before, as much of a skeptic as I once was, I found this one thing to be true of my life and true of yours too:
God is the greatest good we are ever going to get.