The Evolution of Goodness.
‘Our mission is to become embodiments of Christ in our world, working for the common good…’ - Brian McLaren: The Great Spiritual Migration.
The primary idea of goodness is seen throughout the scriptures as a revealing of God …a moment by moment incarnation in creation, event, and human experience. From the early pages of the Genesis creation story where everything was good, through to the Revelation new-creation event goodness is woven in, around, and through us. Goodness, in her many appearings is no respecter of persons, not particularly predisposed to any religious or philosophical position, rather working transcendently behind the scenes and preparing to pounce at any moment, she works her magic in all of creation.
The very sight of any goodness is a sign of Gods presence passing by, an invitation for us to become primary characters that shape the plot and write the ongoing script. The evolution of goodness enlarges our worldview and opens us up to the possibility of new discovery and adventure, a migration that challenges the status quo, the familiar ways of being and the fixed parameters of certainty, she is flexible, open, free, uninhibited by fear, anxiety, and change.
In the early years of the Christian faith story the church was faced with a number of challenges to the long held traditions of its cultural heritage, watching with terror as new adherents came streaming in with their foreign ways and worldview, forcing the powers that be to negotiate with Holy Spirit to find a way to guide them through this tumultuous season.
In the 15th chapter of book of Acts we read about the conflict that arises around the strange religious and cultural partnership occurring between Jew and Gentile, the debate and dispute around long held traditions of circumcision and what would really be needed to experience some kind of unity. This crisis would deepens as personalities and positions of power would clash over preferred relational dynamics and leadership structure. What were they to do, how could they find some kind of way forward without dishonouring all that had brought it this far?
Up to the plate steps ‘goodness’ as the umpire of heaven, gently breathing Holy Spirit into the minds and hearts of all those concerned, calming the masses, casting light on the path ahead.'It felt good to us and the holy spirit’ became the mantra, a collaboration of heaven and earth to boundary them ahead, the new requirement, a carefully crafted commission to manage this melting pot of cultural emergence.
In verse 29 this goodness, at first glance, reads like a don’t eat this, watch out for this, and avoid this at all costs, a strange mix of food, religious, and relational regulations. But what if there was more to this than met the eye, what if they were beginning to see things through the lens of a divine trajectory, that was more inclusive, open, and honouring?
For me this new requirement had far greater reaching ramifications…goodness was demanding more of them they could imagine, a 'don’t consume to the detriment of others’ mandate that would reach every arena of their lives, asking them to really consider what is best for others, to respect religious freedom, dietary preference, and moral convictions, and above all else to treat creation with the dignity she deserves.
Goodness is the embodiment of the Christ mystery in us, enlarging our world and caring for people in unprecedented ways…why not come join the mission?!