It’s a bit sad to know how shocking (or even offensive) it might be for some to hear a pastor say, “Everyone is good.” Many Christians have a theology built on the foundation “Everyone is bad and so Jesus had to die to make up for the difference, because God is good even though people suck.” That’s one way of looking at and interpreting Scripture, but it is incomplete.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
– Genesis 1.27
All things were made and came into existence through Christ; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.
– John 1.3/4
There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
– 1 Corinthians 8.6
Everyone (and even every thing) is made in this Light. There are no exceptions. Yeah, the person you just thought of, whom you consider might be an exception? They are not. And neither are you! This is what Scripture teaches, and all Scriptures that feel contrary need to be filtered through this fundamental truth.
Too many Christians are more comfortable identifying themselves with their “original sin,” rather than what came before that: our original goodness. Goodness, Love, and Light are actually who we really are by the very nature of our having been made in God’s own image. That reality is something that we should sit with for a long time. We need only remove the layers of hurt and defensiveness that have built up over our real selves.
This flips religion on its head! Instead of it being a way to make us acceptable to God, it’s a way to help us continuously and fully accept God, Who has always and ceaselessly accepted us.
Now, I am not saying that everything about everyone is good, but I am saying that everyone is inherently good. It’s what my faith in Christ teaches me every single day. That subtle nuance makes a world of a difference. It means that when we’re behaving selfishly or cruelly, it’s because we’ve become oblivious and thoughtless to who we are.
In those respects in which the soul is unlike God, it is also unlike itself.
- Saint Bernard
Christianity is the journey of discovering our (all of our) native identity; it’s not an attempt to make us someone we’re not. It is remarkably freeing to know, recognize, and understand this. So many people try to make themselves good by what they do exteriorly without seeking a goodness (God) within themselves first. It is how so many people (and many pastors) do great things, but then end up burnt out and doing something seemingly completely out of character. Scriptures tell us that “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” are fruit of the Spirit (who dwells within us), but so many go about trying to make it the fruit of our efforts.
Don’t just strive to do good; strive to be in union with God; Who is all and is in all. Then goodness will be our natural disposition, without tiring us.
Love all that has been created by God,
both the whole and every grain of sand.
Love every leaf and every ray of light.
Love the beasts and the birds,
love the plants,
love every separate fragment.
If you love each separate fragment,
you will understand the mystery of the whole resting in God.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)
It is the difference between religion and relationship. If it exhausts us, we’re focused on the wrong thing.
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
– Jesus, Matthew 11.28-30