I’ll bet you have seen this phrase, either on a sign or stenciled on a wall- “It’s all good”. I don’t know about you but every time I see that sign I want to point and yell, “It is NOT!”.
I don’t yell because I was raised in Kansas and we Kansans are polite folk. Yelling and pointing would be rude and loud and might upset someone.
Never the less, “It’s all good” is simply a false statement. It’s not good in New Zealand right now. It’s still not good in Haiti. It’s not good in Libya. There are plenty of people in my neighborhood for whom it’s not all good; people with cancer, people who are unemployed, people who are grieving.
Why on earth would someone put up a sign that says, “It’s all good”?
Perhaps everything is all good in their life and the lives of everyone they know.
Perhaps they never read the newspaper.
But why the sign?
Are they whistling in the dark trying to avoid the scary reality?
Or do they really think that everything, despite appearances, is really good?
Some folks really do deny the reality of evil. Everyone is good. When people do bad things or bad things happen it is the result of disease,addiction, poor parenting, oppressive social structures and so on. If we simply fix things, it really is all good.
Some folks acknowledge that bad thing happen but think that somehow in God’s big picture it all works out for good. The death of children from disease, the devastation of earthquakes would make sense if we only had God’s big point of view.
Well yes, people can turn their lives around. There are things that we can do to help make the world better. God is at work for good in the midst of bad situations. Absolutely yes! But…
It’s not all good.
To believe” it’s all is good” is to deny the reality of evil. But if there is one thing the Bible is clear about it is that evil exists. There is “something”- to use Paul’s language, powers and principalities- that opposes the will of God. One of our earliest stories in the Bible about good and evil is the story of the serpent, and humans in the garden. The story doesn’t tell us where evil comes from. But the story is clear that from the start, there are “serpents” opposed to God’s will and desire for humankind and all of creation.
Evil is sneaky. It is perfectly willing and able to masqueraded as good. One of the sneakiest things evil has done is to convince us it doesn’t exist. If we don’t believe evil exists, we won’t be able to work for what is truly good.
It’s all good?
No it’s not all good, not yet. But someday. Someday it will really, truly, completely all be good.
There is of course much more that can be said about good and evil. Over the next weeks of Lent, I’ll be reflecting on selected essays from Miroslav Volf’s book Against the Tide and we’ll begin with his essay “Evil and Evildoers”.
My monthly post on science and religion is up at the Presbyterian bloggers site.