May 2016

"I will make all my goodness to pass before you"
[Exodus 33.19]
This was God's response to Moses when Moses requested a vision of God's glory. The Divine Glory would be vastly too overwhelming for any human to encounter i n this earthly life. So Moses is granted just a glimpse of God's glorious All-Goodness. The whole episode is shrouded in mystery: it is obscure because hu man speech falters when we try to put into words the experience of being close to God.

In Exodus, the outcome is earthed with the provision of Divine Laws with all their moral and ethical values. Without these values, as they are interpreted and taught by God's chosen spiritual leade rs, and encoded in the sacred scriptures of the world, human life could not continue and chaos would return.

"Goodness" is one o f the three closely linked Divine Attributes, the others being "Beauty" and "Truth." Experience tells us that the shadow-side of this Godliness is ever -present with us as the disruptive forces of evil, ugliness and falsity. The Bible has two clear messages about this state of affairs. First, that in spite of any appearances to the contrary, the Goodness/Beauty/Truth of God will ultimately prevail because of the supremity of God's Love, Wisdom and Power ove r all. Second, that we are called to do our utmost in engaging with and defeating these negative forces, something that we cannot do without continually an d faithfully "abiding in" God (John 15.4).

In a BBC "Thought for the day" some years ago, Angela Tilby spoke of her recollecti on of being on a bus and witnessing an unpleasant racist attack. She confesses how she and other law-abiding passengers felt acutely embarrassed, yet impot ent and unwilling to interfere. She was thankful for the teenager who helped and comforted the victim. In that youngster she saw God's goodness expressed, and was ashamed of her own lack of resolve. She comments on "our lack of morale ... our too easy acceptance that we can do nothing ... We have come to be lieve that good behaviour is only a private choice and that we shouldn't impose our personal codes on others. So rudeness, rage and threatening talk fill the spaces we have vacated, making an atmosphere in which we almost expect people to behave badly."

The weeds of evil can only be eradicated by deeply digging into the Goodness of God, whatever the cost.