Tag Archives: goodness

Full of Goodness

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
“I am fully convinced, dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness.”
–Romans 15:14 NLT
The local news station here at my parents’ house reports the death of a child from head trauma suffered from a beating by the mother’s boyfriend.
Meanness and evil live next door to all of us, perhaps years of kidnapping and abuse, while few know or suspect. But enough of these crimes come to light to remind us of the deep perversity of mankind.
Against that dismal backdrop, the goodness of God’s people shines brightly as they imitate Christ and do the Lord’s will. Their decency contrasts with unregenerate worldliness.
Such goodness has impressed me again as I absent myself for two months from home and family in Brazil to travel across several states talking with churches, elderships and missions committees about support for our ministry. Though in these times of economic hardship it’s sometimes hard to get the foot in the door, I have been treated with kindness and generosity in every case.
Brothers and sisters in Christ have listened attentively, asked pertinent and discerning questions, given consideration to our invitation to partnership. People have opened their homes and shared their blessings. And though I’ve yet to hear a positive answer to our invitations to new contacts, since it does take time to discuss and decide, I’ve been impressed with the seriousness of the family of God and dedication to the Lord’s task.
Just last night one elder said that his congregation had full confidence in us and was committed to support, this after a lapse on my part in my communication with them.
Our new sponsoring church, Somers Avenue in North Little Rock, Ark., has gone beyond its new commitment to make every effort to expedite the transition and facilitate our work and relationship.
Invitations from churches to present our work have come from unexpected quarters, because brothers work for the sake of the gospel.
There are still miles to travel and words to speak before my task of replacing funds is complete. Moments of doubt still assail me. Loneliness haunts me, since I’ve never been gone from home for so long.
But the words of Psalm 59:11, read during my daily devotional before arriving in the U.S., have become my motto for this trip and continue to resound in my ears: “The God who loves me will help me.”
And that help, as often is the case, comes through the goodness of his people.
I’m fully convinced of that.

The Whipping Jesus

Everybody loves the Jesus of the wedding in Cana. What’s not to like, after all? A wedding, a party, family time, a joyous moment, saving people from embarrassment, producing something of high quality.

The story has all the elements of a warm fuzzy, the ancient equivalent of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The very next story is a slap in the face, after the tingling feeling of the wedding. Read John 2:12-22.

Jesus fashions a whip out of some cords and drives people and animals out of the temple courts. No polite invitation to remove themselves. No attempt at reasoning. No please and thank you. No Mr. Nice Guy.

He overturns tables. He scatters coins across the stone pavement. He yells at the dove sellers to clear out.

He has likely seen this scene thrice annually since the age of 12. Now that he starts his ministry, he performs an act of judgment on Israel, a protest against impediments to worship that man called aids.

His act is moved by zeal, that white-hot passion for the things of God, his Father. A zeal that consumes and burns itself in the service of the Kingdom, for the house of the Lord. “Zeal for your house will devour me.”

But for a world gone soft on the hard-nosed realities of holiness, the whipping Jesus is politically incorrect, too brazen, too in-your-face, too mean.

The world wants to stay at the wedding.

So the Sermon on the Mount has been pressed into mealy-mouth mush.
The Way has become one of many possibilities.

The sovereign Son of God has become merely one of a number of good prophets.

The Savior for eternity has been transformed into the miracle worker for bank and body.

But Jesus inevitably enters with whip in hand, cleansing, purifying, expelling, expunging.

And either one stands with him or flees from him.

Perhaps as much as a cross, Christianity might adopt as a symbol a whip of cords.