I am not sure where it comes from, but there is this idea that mankind, that every human being is inherently good. There are many people who strongly believe that deep down inside every person is something that is just good. They believe that if we just let every person develop naturally without negative influence that we will have a world of good people. There is no need to discipline children because deep down they are good, and they will figure out the right things to do.
On the flip side, there seems to be this growing opinion that God is bad. While man is good, there is lots of evil in this world; there are natural disasters, disease and death. There is a great deal of suffering, and if man is good, then the problem is God. He must be inherently bad. We ask questions like, “why does God allow evil?”, or “why does God allow suffering?”; how is it that God allows so many bad things to happen? We ask these questions, and more often than not we think that all this bad stuff is happening to innocent people.
These theories, that man is inherently good and that God is inherently bad, are thriving in our world today. You don’t have to venture far to see the view on the goodness of man. It is in our magazines and newspapers; it is everywhere. I hear two words so often – “you deserve”. As in “you deserve a break today”; or you deserve a new kitchen or a vacation.
With respect to our views on God, just ask people why they don’t go to church. They blame God for all the bad things that have happened in their lives. We hear stories about how people blame God for a broken marriage, for the death of a child, for the loss of their business. It is never anyone else’s fault, and there is nothing anyone could have done to change things – the problem is all God.
Regrettably, these two views that often are held together to be true, don’t match up with the reality of history and, in particular, the history of the Bible. At one of the most pivotal times in world history, a man by the name of Jesus was put on trial with the accusation that he was somehow creating unrest for the Roman government and declaring himself to be a King. At the end of the farce of a trial and after numerous beatings, mocking, and all kinds of torture, Jesus was escorted down a road to where he would be crucified. At that place he was nailed to two pieces of wood and hung up so that everyone could see. When we go back and read the account of what took place in this event, we see exactly the opposite of what the world believes.
While we believe man to be inherently good, what we see in man is violence, greed, and selfishness. We read of people condemning an innocent man. We have people whipping an innocent man to the point of near death. We have people cheering for one of the most gruesome forms of public execution ever devised. Then, while this man Jesus is hanging on the cross, while he is bleeding, dying of hunger and thirst, gasping for every breath and slowly suffocating as the weight of his body crushes in on his chest, we witness the onlookers mocking him and soldiers gambling for what is left of Jesus’ possessions. This is certainly not the high point of mankind. If man has any inherent goodness we do not see it in this picture.
Then if we look at the other side, what we are witnessing is God being willing to sacrifice His Son in order to provide a way of salvation for mankind. We have Jesus, an innocent victim to these terrible atrocities, not complaining, not cursing, but calling out in compassion, calling for the care of his mother, pleading for the forgiveness of those who are punishing Him. If a person held any thought that God might be evil, any thought that there was evil in the person of Jesus, at this moment, those thoughts would have to be lost in the midst of this overwhelming expression of compassion, love and forgiveness.
So on reflection, perhaps we should reconsider some of our assumptions about mankind. Even more, we really need to rethink our views on who God is and what His character is like. The Bible tells us that God is good. We would all do well to open our hearts and minds to the reality that our culture has it wrong, and that God is good.