Good or God?
Stop for a moment and think about that title.
What is a word you might think of when you think of the word good?
Evil? As in “good versus evil.”
What is author and pastor John Bevere thinking about when he opposes good with God? Well, he gives a hint in his subtitle: “Why good without God isn’t enough.”
As I thought about commenting on this book, I remembered a good friend who suffered through one of the most difficult times of life. This person shared their story with me in a way that was so honest. The pain they were going through was instructional for me. Maybe it will be for you.
They were in a marriage where their spouse paid them little attention, in fact the spouse worked so hard that most family duties were neglected and my friend had to do them all. Could the hard-working spouse have chosen to be involved with the family? Yes they could but they did not [lack of interest, career, selfishness etc. etc.]. This life style went on for many years and my friend never really complained loudly enough for the spouse to hear. All the signs of dissatisfaction were there but the spouse was too busy at career-building to see them.
Let me be clear, my friend was a good person, not much of a church goer or Bible reader and maybe they did not really have a personal relationship with God but they knew right from wrong [they thought]. They reported to me “I was a good person.”
But then in the midst of this disappointing lifestyle came a temptation…a way out, if you will.
Someone else came into the picture, someone who was willing to give all the needed attention that was so desired from the spouse and you know the rest, my friend was involved in a situation that threatened the existence of the marriage.
That’s when they told me “I was a good person but I discovered that good was not good enough.”
That was eye-opening.
Many people live their lives with half-hearted commitments to God, or just vague ideas that all I need to do is be “good.” That will get me through life.
Bevere states that as Christians we should not just settle for a good life; he proposes that we should seek a “God life.” The problem with most of us is that we settle for much less than we should.
What are examples of settling? They are everywhere. Church is open every week and we only attend sporadically. When we attend we don’t even consider getting involved with things like Sunday school, the youth ministry, children’s ministry, the church council or any other needed work that happens in the church. There are many outreach opportunities at your church, where you can have a positive impact on your community but there is just not enough time in the day to do your own work, much less volunteer to help others. We know we should read our Bible but it just sits, gathering dust. There are lots of good books to help us grow our faith but we don’t buy them or read them. Bible study is just not on our radar. Maybe you have “given your life to Christ” and that is great but after that commitment, you have not done anything to grow your faith. Maybe you think you can ride that one day commitment to heaven.
Church sometimes “settles” too. In a frantic attempt to get new members, churches do anything to make a new attendee feel welcome. Coffee bars, informal dress, upbeat contemporary music, hymn lyrics shined up on the wall so one does not have to hold hymnals, engaging activities for youth and children. The pastor preaches a message that is very positive. I know I am exaggerating, but I know of one church that got rid of its pastor due to the fact that he preached too much about the consequences of sin.
When you go to some of these worship centers, the focus is not on good versus evil.
Being good seems to be good enough.
As someone who tries to write, I know that readers don’t want to be left with an open-ended story and that is what I did with my friend. Yes, what this person did threatened the marriage but it did not end there. Reconciliation occurred. Growth through the pain happened. In the place of weakness, God produced strength. Instead of a career focus, God showed the spouse that family is the most important job.
Good was not good enough.
The lesson was learned.
God became number one in this story and for my friend that has made a big difference. For the spouse that has made a big difference.
Good without God isn’t enough.
Good or God?