O My Goodness!

O My Goodness!

“Though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things; everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Getting Better at Being Good.

1. Worship the Lord. We become what we look at; we are shaped by who we honor, bow down to, love. To worship is to get back to square one, the Source of goodness. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty… Bigger than the universe, Better than perfect, Older than time, Stronger than energy, Lower than a servant. Holy, holy, holy. There’s God, and there’s everything else. Hosanna in the highest! Heaven and earth are full of His glory!

2. Inspire the Imagination. Whenever our imagination is captured, the rest of us soon tags along. Starting with stories in scripture, lose yourself in heroic literature and history, in tales of courage and sacrifice, in biographies and drama, in poetry and myth, in truth-centered fiction and the fine arts, such as music, sculpture, paintings, architecture. The desire to be good is a flame that is sparked by an inspired imagination.

3. Learn the Vocabulary. Goodness has been defined, described, unpacked in helpful ways by the Christian Church. It helps to be familiar with the classic virtues and vices, because the right words help us to know what we’re thinking and talking about. The Theological Virtues of faith, hope and love; the Cardinal Virtues of courage, wisdom, justice and moderation; the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, greed, anger, envy, sloth, lust and gluttony. But don’t get stuck there. Passing the vocabulary test doesn’t make us good.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice. Regardless of the skill we’re trying to develop… a sport, an art form, a habit of goodness. The fundamentals need to be rehearsed, practiced, repeated, until the conscious decision becomes unconscious, the deliberate act becomes second nature. One might call this the muscle memory of the heart. To do our part is to be cooperating with God, even if we don’t feel like it. Especially when we don’t feel like it.

5. Confess the Wrongdoings. As God continues to transform each of us from a sow’s ear to a silk purse (F. Buechner), we will have weak moments galore. Have as much grace with each other and ourselves as God does with us. Be humble enough to admit our stumblings, confess them to the Father, learn from them, and move on. Renewing our innocence daily will go far in keeping our mistakes from becoming a pattern.

6. Surrender Daily to the Way. When you roll out of bed each day, come out with your hands up. As we wave the white flag to God’s goodness, we will gradually move from a self-centered life to a God-centered life. Submit to Baptism, Communion, discipleship; to inward spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, study; to outward spiritual disciplines like solitude, simplicity, service; to community spiritual disciplines like worship, confession, guidance, celebration; to a lifestyle of physical and spiritual works of mercy and justice. Blessed are the vanquished.

7. Love Has the Last Word. “Over all these virtues put on Love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14)

One Reply to “O My Goodness!”

  1. So much here to learn from. “Renewing your innocence daily” is such a great concept. The first quote from Lewis makes me think of why the original sin was “eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.” When Lewis says there is a place where “they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes,” that seems to be a good description of Eden/Heaven. Being the right thing by tapping into the source rather than trying to do the right thing by tapping into our own weak wills.