I recently returned from an amazing trip to Anchorage, Alaska. I flew on one of the major airlines who advertised their message frequently: ‘Good leads the way.’ This started me thinking. More on that later. My visit to Alaska was awesome! The beauty of that region is astounding! The mountains rise in their magnificence, snow covered shining in the sun. The wildlife is everywhere. The waterways are clear blue. At creation “God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:18 b) I pondered the goodness of God’s creation, even as I read about the problems of homelessness in Anchorage. The lack of housing and adequate services is real and we saw evidence as we traveled through the city.
I realized that just being so near the glorious creation of our God does not always produce goodness in the people. The sun may shine for over 17 hours a day right now in Alaska but in December there is only 5 and a half hours of sunshine. Because of where Anchorage is located, the extreme cold can be a challenge especially if you have limited resources. Since Alaska is far away from the lower 48, the cost of living is high. There are jobs available but do the wages cover the high costs of living? It seemed to me that though the goodness of creation was all around, many were finding it challenging to see good or live a good life.
I wonder if we who live in WV, a very beautiful state with much wildlife and glorious recreation possibilities are letting good lead the way? Are we living a good life? And if so, what does that look like?
In the Gospel of Mark, a man runs up to Jesus and says, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’. To which Jesus replies: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” (Mk. 10:17b-18 NRS) If no one is good, not even Jesus, how can we or an airline say we are good? If we read through the Gospels we learn that what was considered ‘good’ was in question in these New Testament times similar to our times. Jesus healed on the sabbath and religious leaders criticized him. He cast out a demon and they said he filled with a demon. What was good? What was bad? It seems people had different definitions.
Jesus said only God alone is good even as Jesus lived out the will of God in all he did. It seems goodness to Jesus was about caring for and engaging with those who were not considered ‘good.’ They were shunned as unclean – because of health reasons, lifestyle reasons or other sinfulness. Jesus didn’t let the religious rules about what is good or sinless stand between him and those who desperately needed God’s goodness. Jesus didn’t just talk about goodness, he was the good that lead the way – to the dismay of the religious leaders and to the joy of the people who came to him. Jesus didn’t need to point fingers as to who sinned or who wasn’t good enough. Jesus simply met them where they were as he let them touch him or he engaged with them to meet their need.
It seems to me that when we live in Christ Jesus, we grow closer to the goodness of God. As we begin to humbly walk where Jesus calls us to go, we will begin to see people the way Jesus sees them through the eyes of goodness and mercy. We let Jesus’ good lead the way.