Whakatupu - Cultivate - Goodness
When we reflect back to the beginning, when the created world was brought into
being, we read in Genesis that God considered that what was created at the end
of each day was good. That indicates to me that at the very heart of the created
order is goodness. At the centre of every created being, the seed of goodness
continues to germinate year after year, generation upon generation.
In his letter to the Galatian Church, Paul writes, ‘convinced that no human being
can please God by self-improvement, we believe in Jesus as the Messiah so that
we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be
good.’ Therefore, in support of this statement, I would propose that goodness is
not something that can be manufactured by human effort but by the ongoing
cultivation of Holy Spirit in our lives.
One of the challenges with goodness is that it can be a rather subjective term.
What is good for me may not be good for you. We may watch the same movie
and differ on our opinion whether it was good or not. In the run up to our recent
election there was much debate about what was good for the future of our
country. So in this context, how do we define goodness?
When God considered the created world was good, it was a God made up of
three; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rather than an old man in the sky taking pride
in his handy work, rather agreeing that what they had created was good.
Similarly, in order to find ‘all the good trails’ in life, the writer of Proverbs 2
encourages us to seek wisdom, counsel, and common sense in the counsel of God
Therefore goodness is best defined in communities of family, friends,
church, clubs and tribes rather than individuals in isolation. In these
communities, we can constantly affirm together what is good, and kind, wise and
true. We can understand what it means to be good to ourselves, each other and
the created world around us and we can understand what God meant when the
created world was good and how best we can respond to that.
The other challenge with goodness is that its power often feels overshadowed by
a culture that feels dominantly agitated and aggressive, where goodness
struggles to find the light, let alone shape and influence the world we live in.
Ironically, this agitation and dissidence of our culture is often due to our
differences on what is good. The recent election is again another example of this.
A few months ago, Greg talked about moving the mountains in our lives one
stone at a time. In terms of goodness, I would reverse that analogy and say that
all our small acts of goodness, cultivated and motivated by Holy Spirit are like
adding one small stone at a time, with each stone together building a mountain of
goodness that transform us, each other and the world around us.
So lets not take goodness for granted, goodness at work within us, goodness to
others and goodness gifted to you by others. Believe in its power to change lives,
no matter how small that change may feel at times. Trust Holy Spirit in you and
others and let the life the Jesus, and the stories of the church serve as a constant
reminder that small doesn’t translate to insignificance.