“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately wicked; who can know it?”
This is speaking about ‘man’s heart’. So at core, man is fundamentally ‘bad apples’ from the get go; which of course goes against our “natural” belief that we are fundamentally ‘good’ — thus the title of this post. I think we’ve gotten a little beyond ourselves here, though; let’s rewind, and start from the ‘beginning’. Genesis 1:1 says (the first verse of the Bible):
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
If this is our starting point, then questions about ‘good people’ will start to take on a different flavor. Why? Because “in the beginning” ‘this God’ created man and woman in His image:
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likenes; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26
So originally we were created in the image of God to have a relationship with Him. Everything that we are flows from our relationship to Him. A problem entered in, man decided that He didn’t like “God’s way,” instead He wanted to do it “his way.” God originally gave man the choice to choose God or self; we all live with the consequences of that choice, the choice was “self.” Genesis 3:1-7 says:
1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
It was at this moment that “man’s goodness” was lost; because his goodness was necessarily tied into his/her relationship with the Creator. Once this “order” became disordered; once this relationship became dis-relationship, the notion of man being “good” became a non-starter (not a reality). If all of man’s goodness was dependent on their relationship with their creator, and that was lost, then how does the question “why do bad things happen to Good people?” make any kind of sense?
Returning to Jeremiah, the verse we started out with, this is why it says that man’s heart is “wicked.” It is because we are devoid or emptied of the presence of God in our lives in the relational way that we were originally designed for.
So when people ask “that” question it becomes clear how it is misconstrued from the get go. Underneath that question is really the question: “if there is a loving God, then how could He let the things happen that He does, to apparently ‘good’ people?” Do you see the problem with that kind of thinking? It starts with man, instead of God. It assumes the lie that got us into this mess in the first place. And it takes no responsibility for the evil and wickedness and chaos that we see all around us (and in us). And it fails to recognize that God has actually done something about “our problem;” and further assumes that if we don’t “see” the immediate answer to that problem “NOW,” then He must be aloof and not care.
This post is just an introduction to dealing with “why” we are in the state that we are, now. My next post will unfold how ‘bad things’ have been reversed into ‘good things’ for “redeemed people.” Obviously, I am asking this question in light of my own current health situation (cancer); I am hoping for those who read here, and don’t have a relationship with the Creator, that this will challenge you to really think about these issues in fresh ways. In ways that might open you up to an orientation that you were designed for; for a loving relationship with your Creator. If you ‘start with yourself’, in any of your endeavors (i.e. to “better yourself”), then you necessarily have already ‘mis-started’ since incurved self is the problem to begin with. If you follow a belief system that endorses ascetism, or self-deprivation, or self-denial; again, you’ve started with yourself, in order to deny yourself, and thus mis-started. We need someone outside ourselves, to start over again for us . . . that will be the topic of the next post — stay tuned! I love all who read here, and it wouldn’t be loving for me to not at least mention how much God loves us; this post is an attempt to kick that off, we had to start somewhere, so why not in the “beginning?”