"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."Even though the quote is a bit cliche-like I agree with Churchill's sentiments about life being an upward climb. What the quote doesn't say is that we sometimes have to take a step down for every two steps of upward progress. Sometimes we miss this and have a tendency is to view our climb with rose-colored glasses.. we occasionally see sinful, and somewhat evil, behavior and phenomena as being a part of "God's plan" for our "ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path". It reminds me of this verse from Isaiah's fifth chapter:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!I have been guilty of doing this.. of painting a "God's plan" picture over the bad behaviors (mine and others) of my life.. it is like (that popular phrase from last year's presidential campaign) "putting lipstick on a pig" or the saying that the guys in prison used to chant: "Its all good!.
Owning up to my own bad behaviors and realizing how I used lipstick to pretty up my and others' bad behaviors has been a long and difficult journey. I so often want to be "positive" and "optimistic" about my life.. to see the bright side of sin.. to say "It's all good!".. I guess I just love the color of that lipstick :)
One of the problems believers have is misinterpreting this verse from Romans 8:
We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.I think that.. on some level.. we want it to say all things are good because God uses them for our good. This kind of thinking leads us to some strange places.. places where we say things like "God is using cancer to teach me things" and inadvertently give the impression that something is "good" just because it seems to be producing good results. Another passage that is sometimes distorted is this one from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians:
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.Notice that it says "in" (and not "for") everything give thanks. This passage seems to indicate that our rejoicing, praying and thanking are not dependent upon our circumstances.. they are independent of the bad stuff that comes from within creation. I think that our focus in these times is to those things outside of creation and not from inside of creation.
We do not need phony religious lipstick.. we can be real about the darkness.. we can call the darkness dark.. it does not detract from the light.. we need not call evil good.. after all there is only one who is Good :)