What are your core beliefs? Core beliefs include the thoughts and assumptions we hold about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Examples might be: what goes around comes around, I am smart, I am ugly; people are selfish, life is full of beauty.
Our personal core beliefs consistently affect the way we think, feel and act. Often our core beliefs are shaped early in life. If a parent told you, you are no good, you might struggle to see your value. If you believe the world is not safe, that effects, how you move through life. We can work on our core beliefs once we are aware of them.
We also have spiritual core beliefs. Foundations of our faith that guide our life with Christ. I am precious to God, Jesus hears me, if I am bad the fires of hell await. I share that one because we have heard several times recently about fire, weeping and gnashing of teeth. That image is in direct conflict with one of my core spiritual beliefs- that God is Good! This image of burning makes perfect sense when considering bad seed, weeds, that need to be destroyed because they pollute your crop, but I reject it as the will of God for humanity. Now I do believe there will be a reckoning in God’s time, but faith is not based on fear of God, but rather the love God shows through his Son Jesus Christ.
Today I want to unpack this core belief that God is Good and do so through the two passages we just read. You might wonder how a passage about predestination and lots of short parables about the kingdom of heaven supports this claim, but let’s explore them together and find out. Here are three areas I want to explore:
God is for Us, the goodness of God’s kingdom, and nothing can separate us from God.
My goal is to strengthen your core belief that God is good.
First and foremost, God is for YOU! Paul writes this as a question and a collective, but the true heart of the matter is that God is for you. Even when we mess up, and fall short, God believes in you. Now Christ is the one who is to condemn, to punish for all our mistakes. But even though Christ should condemn, God is so good, he doesn’t. Instead Christ intercedes for us with God. Have you ever been pulled over for speeding? You broke the law, you were going too fast, but then you get off with a warning. The officer intercedes for you between the law and the penalty. God gave us his Son so that he can intercede for us, because God is good. God knows we are human and we fall short, but created a path back to the fullness of God’s love through Jesus.
God is so good that “all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” This means God is in your corner. God wants what is best for you. It does not mean God makes everything happen in life. Yes, Paul is speaking about predestination, but we also have free will. “Some have argued from Romans 8:29 that predestination is based on God’s foreknowledge in the sense that God looked down the corridors of time and saw who would freely choose to believe, and then predestinated them. This position assumes that foreknowledge here only means “knows in advance.” In the Bible, however, knowledge is often used in a sense of personal intimacy, as when Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived a son (Genesis 4:1). God’s foreknowledge is linked to His foreloving. We see in Romans 8:30 that everyone who was “foreknown” was also ‘predestined, called, justified, and glorified’” (R.C. Sproul, Tabletalk, 1989). God is for you through God’s foreloving!
Secondly, the goodness of God’s kingdom reflects the goodness of God. Jesus tells 6 parables about the kingdom of heaven. The first two, mustard seed and yeast, show growth, expansion and are sandwiched between the telling of the parable of the weeds and its explanation. Both show how something small can grow into something amazing with God’s blessing. And yet they are common stories about ordinary people- a tenant farmer and a housewife- making the goodness of God more approachable. The next two parables speak to the value and the hiddenness of God. God is so good that when you discover God, you want to sell all that you have just to be close to God. Now for a merchant to sell all of his possessions, to own one valuable pearl, is not a good business plan, nothing to sell, no way to make a living. But it does speak to the goodness of God, the value of being in right relationship with the divine. The hidden treasure reminds us that God is mysterious. There is no way for us to fully understand our Creator, but we seek and value being in close proximity. The incarnation is the fulfillment of that longing. When God comes to us in Jesus Christ we know the reality of the goodness of God, the love made real in his son Jesus Christ.
The final way we know the goodness of God is by the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Paul speaks about all the struggles that might separate us from Christ: hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword. Think of a time in your life when you felt pulled away from God or like God had abandoned you. It might have been when facing your own mortality or the death of a loved one. Or maybe you questioned a God who could let so much pain and suffering happen in the world. How did you get back to God? How did you find the goodness of God again? I asked this question to our Bible gathering group and they shared some heart wrenching stories of struggle and loss. But they all agreed that admitting our need for God, laying our struggles at the feet of Christ and prayer were the keys to returning or staying connected to God. Talk to God when you feel lost or your faith is waning. We all know people who have experienced a loss and through that tragedy have lost their hope and their faith in God. Their core belief in God was shaken and they walked away. Maybe because they believed that God had walked away from them. That is why it is so vital to have core beliefs that cannot be shaken. Even when we do not understand the pain or distress. Even when we are mad at God and want life to be different, we hold on to the grounding principle of our faith- the goodness of God. We hold fast to the sovereignty of God who in God’s time and purpose will work all things for the good of those who love him. When we hold onto the goodness of God, even in our darkest moments, we can live out this contemporary translation from the Message.
“None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (Romans 8:37-39, The Message).
Rest in the loving embrace of your Savior.
Trust that Jesus has your back.
Be lifted in Christ’s love.
Neither the pain of death, nor the struggles of life can separate us from the goodness of God. God is good and makes this promise to you: nothing can separate YOU from the love of God in