It has been stipulated that we know what is good because we know God. In other words, God is the author of that which is good and he has allowed or revealed to us a capacity to recognize, that which is good.
But what is good?
There are many things; some are good, some maybe bad. And some neither good nor bad, they just are. And their goodness or badness might reflect a fleeting circumstance rather than some fundamental attribute.
So, what are we talking about?
But we know that morality varies across geography and time. Also, we comprehend and can grapple with the complexity of a moral dilemma. Like the one that faced Dietrich Bonheoffer when offered the opportunity to participate in an assassination plot against Hitler.
To kill is wrong. On the other hand, not to attempt to eliminate the evil that was Hitler would be wrong.
What’s the moral thing to do?
It seems Good is hard to define when considering it apart from a specific object or circumstance.
I’m reminded of a story, The Peace Child. According to Amazon’s description, “In 1962, Don and Carol Richardson risked their lives to share the gospel with the Sawi people of New Guinea. Peace Child told their unforgettable story of living among these headhunting cannibals who valued treachery through fattening victims with friendship before the slaughter. God gave Don and Carol the key to the Sawi hearts via a redemptive analogy from their own mythology. ”
The interesting thing about this story was that the Sawi people, upon hearing the story of Jesus, and thinking Treachery was the highest virtue, considered Judas to be the hero!
Without giving away the punch line for those who have not yet read the story, the Richardson’s were able to find a common point of perception regarding Good in the form of a sacrifice.
That got me thinking.
Perhaps, we know Good in part because we know sacrifice.
And we know sacrifice because we know God.
Now, “knowing God” in this instance, doesn’t mean necessarily a personal relationship with Jesus Christ dedicated to a life following his teachings. Knowing God in this instance is analogous to a tree knowing it needs to grow toward the sun. The tree knows this by its nature.
We seem to have a similar natural appreciation for Good when perceived in the context of Sacrifice.
How do I know we know sacrifice?
Movies like Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, War Horse, actually come to think of it…a number of Spielberg movies….
We walk out of the theater having seen a movie like that, and we’re moved. Moved by the notion that there’s something right, something good about the sacrifice. And its not always a sacrifice of one for many. Saving Private Ryan was a story about the many sacrificing for just one.
Another example of sacrifice: Jesus dying on the cross.
And let’s not forget, for us.
That sacrifice, in time, did not begin our acquaintance or understanding of sacrifice. It served as the greatest example and in doing so revealed the author of the Good.
Now, we, created in his image, naturally move toward that truth like a tree grows toward the sun.
Unlike a tree, however, we know the identity of that good. It’s God.
Leave a comment and/or proceed to post #4: The Great Other