Father Abraham, Tacos, and God's Goodness
Father Abraham and Facebook
If Facebook existed during Abraham’s day, I imagine he would have been angry at my thoughts about God’s goodness. I imagine he would have had to call me out online. And I imagine he would have done so with a fury.
Because my thoughts about God’s goodness are substantially better than Abraham’s thoughts were…
…And in no small part because of Abraham’s faith in the goodness of God.
Abraham was a good father to us; his conviction of the goodness of God was greater than his understanding of the goodness of God. Because of this, he laid a firm foundation upon which you and I have built our faith.
Because Abraham was willing to follow God into the heart of his broken understanding about the nature of God’s goodness, I have never once wondered if today is the day God requires me to offer a sacrifice of worship through the brutal murder of one of my kids.
Because Abraham followed God into the very foundations of his broken understanding regarding the goodness of God, and because Abraham was set free from his delusional thinking, you and I are free as well.
But let’s face it, some of Abraham’s thoughts regarding God’s nature were nothing short of a horror show. He actually believed God required child sacrifice as a form of worship.
Therefore, had Facebook existed in Abraham’s day, and had he read my most recent declarations of grace, I imagine he would have been unnerved and likely furious with me. I imagine my thoughts on the goodness of God would have felt like an attack on the very foundations of his understanding.
And I get it. When you are convinced God is good, as Abraham was, but your understanding regarding His goodness includes ideas about His nature that are not good, ideas upon which the very foundations of your faith have been built, ideas you have suffered for and because of; then when someone comes along and posts on Facebook, “Hey, God is better than those ideas,” you’d be angry as well.
And that’s why I think Abraham would have likely written something on my page that sincerely, strongly, and even furiously, suggested I be careful with the word “good.”
The Definition of the Word ‘Good’
“Jason, I think it’s really important that we get a clear definition of the word good. You might think something is good while someone else might think that very same thing is bad.”
The fella was unnerved, maybe even furious. I could tell by the anger in his voice and by how quickly he stood and took the mic when the pastor asked if anyone had any thoughts or questions.
It was a Wednesday night, at a local church, and I had just finished speaking on the always good love of God.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that the more I focus on the goodness of God, the more I am challenged on the definition of the word, ‘good.’
My early responses were simply, “Good means good.”
But that wouldn’t have settled Abraham’s likely furious thoughts and unnerved heart.
After all, burning your child on an altar was the ultimate act of worship in Abraham’s day. In the faith narrative that Abraham was familiar with, in the land of Canaan where he lived, the sacrifice of the firstborn was customary. In times of trouble, the Canaanites offered their best and dearest to the gods, “the fruit of their body for the sin of their soul.” (see Micah 6:7)
Abraham believed God was good, but Abraham also thought that devotion to God required human sacrifice. Because he was convinced God was good but had lived much of his life under the burden of a broken and depraved misunderstanding regarding God’s nature, he would have likely needed a little more than, “good means good.”
So, when the fella stood and angrily suggested we needed a clear definition of the word good, I understood and was ready.
I opened my iPad and went to the dictionary definition I had put in there years earlier for just such occasions.
Good; morally excellent; virtuous, righteous, of high quality, worth, benefit:
Used in a sentence; “What good will that do? We shall work for the common good. To do good. To be a power for good.”
Then I told the fella a story about the street taco I had in Mexico City.
It wasn’t good.
And when I write, “it wasn’t good,” I’m not referencing my personal preference as opposed to someone else’s personal preference. I am not referencing its flavor; I’m writing about the following 24 hours I spent hugging a toilet while lying on a cold tiled bathroom floor in a church facility just outside Mexico City.
While the taco tasted good, it wasn’t good…
…which was the point the angry fella was making…
His conviction of the goodness of God was greater than his understanding of the goodness of God and I had just exposed it.
Unnerved and angry, he stood up and suggested that God could somehow be that street taco. You know, the taco Jason can describe from a pulpit as tasty, while also being the taco that nearly killed him; a good that can also be bad.
You see I had shared so well on the goodness of God that the fella found himself faced with a choice; either he must consider the possibility that God was better than he thought or Jason was using the word “good” to describe a personal preference…
A Personal Preference
Let’s say I am at a party with friends and while holding a paper plate full of steak and jalapeno tacos, with cilantro, diced onions, homemade Pico de Gallo, and Mexican cheese, I say to our host, ‘These tacos are really good.’ Then later, at the same party, my wife, Karen, whispers quietly to me, “’Those tacos weren’t good.’
In this interaction, Karen and I used the word “good” to disagree.
And of course, we would disagree.
I love Mexican cheese and have always said, “The sign of a good meal is if you have to blow your nose at least once while eating it.” Meanwhile, my wife is a sensitive creature, with a refined palate, who hates Mexican cheese, and prefers her heat to behave subtly.
When applied to personal preference, the word good can mean anything, that’s how personal preference works.
But at no point in our disagreement about the flavor of tacos would there be confusion about whether we were discussing the impact those tacos would have as a “power for good.”
Why? Because Tacos aren’t God.
In this hypothetical (but also not hypothetical because it happened) conversation with my wife at a party, not once did we wonder what role those tacos might play in working “toward the common good” of mankind. Nor did we need clarity on the definition of the word good. Why, because our conversation wasn’t about the intrinsic nature or inherent value of tacos.
However, when using the word good to describe God, we are describing His intrinsic nature. That’s why the fella was so angry with me.
It’s also why Abraham would likely respond furiously to my most recent post on God’s measureless grace.
You see, good means good. And everyone knows this.
Thankfully the goodness of God is greater than our misunderstanding of the goodness of God. And His goodness has and will continue to confront our misunderstandings.
We are daily invited to believe He is good, to have faith regardless of our understanding so that, like Abraham, we might follow God up a mountain into the heart of our deception, discover revelation, and be set free.
To be continued…
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE…