11th May 2020

Celebrating Goodness

“Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.’”
Luke 18:19 (NRSVA)

The recent Covid-19 crisis has helped me understand a famous quote that has always intrigued me. I have never read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, but I do know its opening words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” I once turned on the TV to find this famous quote being attacked by someone who claimed that it was a ridiculous statement. How can it be the best of times and yet the worst of times?

Well, it all makes sense to me in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. I have seen the best, as well as the worst, of human nature. Before the lockdown was announced, my mum and I watched a particular supermarket being stripped of all its goods by the panicking public. We stood flabbergasted; fear had taken hold. I did joke about it later, saying that I had just witnessed ‘shopmaggedon.’ Yet, fear can be contagious; I’m sure that it left its mark on both of us. The news has been full of stories about selfish, rude and downright evil acts.

Yet, Covid-19 has prompted some of the most selfless, brave and kind behaviour ever seen by our generation. Generous souls have reached out to the vulnerable, the housebound and the sick. Some of these courageous individuals have paid the ultimate sacrifice; having caught Coronavirus, they have sadly died. Along with selfless love, we have also seen hope expressed through the paintings of rainbows found in many windows throughout the UK. We have also seen gratitude, as people take to the streets every week to clap in support of the NHS staff and other essential workers, who are stocking the food in our stores and making sure the lights stay on.

Sometimes we can ask ourselves: where God is in all of this? I genuinely believe that where we see people sacrifice for others, we are seeing God at work. The individuals involved may not recognise God’s role in their lives – or even believe he exists. Yet, we see from Scripture that qualities like patience, kindness and generosity are in fact “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). God himself is the source of all such loving behaviour. Many people may well be surprised in the resurrection to find that they had been co-operating with God’s action in the world!

Where we see good in the world, then we can be comforted to know that God is near. He is at work, bringing his good purpose into the lives of those who are in need of help. As Christians, we are encouraged to participate with God in his outreach to humanity: “Whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith” (Galatians 6:10). We may end up working alongside agnostics or even atheists. But, as Christians, we can point out as to where all this goodness originates,

It is in the worst of times that we often see remarkable acts of sacrifice. Whether performed by a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or atheist, we can give thanks to God for this outbreak of good. For it reminds us that God continues to bring the fruit of his Holy Spirit into this troubled world.

Father, we praise you for all the righteous acts that you prompt throughout the world. Give us the eyes to see where you are working, so that we can give thanks for all the good things you do. We know that all acts of sacrifice originate from you. We pray this in the name of the One who gave his life for all humanity, your Son Jesus Christ.

Study by Ian Woodley

About the Author:
Ian Woodley is an Elder and Pastoral Council member of the Edinburgh Congregation of Grace Communion International, UK.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

*Note that due to the coronavirus lockdown, Church Services are suspended for the time being. Contact is still as below. For live-streaming Sermons and Bible Studies go to our UK website www.gracecom.church

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One Response to “11th May 2020”

  1. Stewart Raeburn on May 11th, 2020 3:35 pm

    Thank you Ian for the insightful explanation and for your work. God bless.

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