The meaning of the word ‘good’ has shifted somewhat over the years. Sadly, these days it has been greatly downgraded in our quest for excellence. With parents and children saying of a competition that all they can do is give 110% and see what happens is it any wonder that telling someone their work is good, or that they are good, seems lackluster at best?
I started thinking about the topic this morning when once again reading from Walter Brueggemann’s book on Genesis (by the way, I’m still in the creation section and expect to be there for some time having to pause to reflect and digest every couple paragraphs). Having looked at Sabbath the part I read today was looking at two theologies of creation’s relationship with God; one of vast separation due largely to our failure to be faithful, and the other as a continuing part of bringing about his vision. The difference seems to hinge on what we think God meant in declaring creation, “very good.”
As per the 110% effort, there is a tendency to feel that being told, “it is good,” is only part of the statement that then ends with, “but it could be better!” Setting that part aside, let’s look at our other associations with the word good. If we were at church and I said, “What is the opposite of evil?” you would likely respond, “Good.” We tell our children to have fun, and be good when we drop them off at activities. When we say that someone is a good person, we mean a moral and kind natured person.
God didn’t find a world and judge it to be good and I can’t imagine in what way a pine tree or a rock could be considered morally good or evil. Like an artist he brought the whole of creation out of nothing with his creativity. He saw it all before it was. Then when he, “committed it to canvas” he stood back and viewed his work and it was good work. It was beautiful and matched his vision perfectly.
Check out Brueggemann, Walter, Genesis. Interpretation A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. John Knox Press; Atlanta 1982
Brueggemann makes reference to the work of Westermann in Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church 1978