Do you ever doubt God’s goodness? He’s filled the world with proof—if our eyes are open to it.
Imagine you’re in a city full of pagans who have little concept of an ultimate Creator God. Instead, they pay their dues to countless deities whom they believe have the power sustain them. There’s a god for fertility, a god for cooking, a god for entertainment, a god for finances, a god for education, and so forth. How would you introduce that town to the one true God?
In the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas find themselves in that exact situation. The folks of Lystra were so confused about religion that they decided Paul and Barnabas—both straggly, wild-eyed preachers—were gods themselves. So here’s what they told the crowd:
“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations heallowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17, ESV)
According to the Bible, God isn’t the distant, uninvolved, bearded figure we often think him to be—you know, the one we pay our dues to at funerals, weddings, Christmas, Easter, and the occasional family dinner.
No; God is actually near all of us, providing all the things we take for granted, from food and water to air and each heartbeat.
As soon as we think of God in those terms, suddenly he becomes much more familiar—and real. For all of history, God has made his goodness obvious to everyone.
- He has watered the crops of both the good and the wicked with rain from above.
- He has filled the earth with countless fruits, vegetables, waters and animals to fuel our bodies daily.
- He has kept the sun far enough away to not incinerate you yet near enough to keep you from snapping frozen in the depth of space.
- He holds this tiny chunk of earth in perfect trajectory hurling around a star at 67,000 miles per hour, assuring that we don’t feel a thing.
- He breathes his spirit into each breath we take, each moment making certain that we remain “living souls” rather than dead bags of dirt (Genesis 2:7). And he lets that breath remain in our lungs even when we disobey or dishonor him, giving us day after day to turn to him (Genesis 6:3; Hebrews 9:27-28).
Why did Paul list rain and crops among the prime evidences of God’s goodness in the world, burying the headline that God became a man, died, and rose from the dead to reconcile us to himself?
Food and the Gospel
You know how good God must be, to give us every single blessing for daily life? He is the God we get to know and enjoy, if we put our hope in Christ.
The fond, satisfying nearness of all our food, air, sleep, and water are all meant as a taste. A way for us to actually experience how good God is. But they’re all samples of his ultimate goodness displayed in Christ.
How would we ever understand the immeasurable riches of Christ if we don’t first grasp that every good thing we’ve ever experience in this life is also from God (James 1:17)?
Knowing Christ isn’t just about escaping Hell, but also tasting the deep, fatherly goodness of God, who makes known to us the path of life and satisfies us in his presence for all eternity with infinite joy (Psalm 16:11).
May we never become so focused on getting to Heaven that we forget to anticipate the good God who’s there smiling and waiting.
Tasting Eternity Today
If you ever grew up saying “the blessing” before your meals, you know how talking to God can become robotic.
Perhaps you grew up praying, “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.” Done. Time to dig in.
Yet somehow, we don’t pray the same prayers to thank God for air, water, sleep, work, exercise, gravity, and a million other things that keep us intact each day.
God wants you to taste him. He has given us food so that we would trust how satisfying he is, since he is the maker and giver of all physical provision. Every blessing is a tiny foretaste of the deep satisfaction found in knowing Christ.
Next time you look down at your dinner plate, remember that the same God who feeds you also came down from Heaven to die for you. And he did so in order to buy you out of Hell so that you could have infinite joy in knowing him.
God’s goodness is near, welling up from the deepest part of his heart and showered over the whole world. How foolish would we be to value the blessings of food and water over the true bread of life and source of living water, Jesus Christ.
If you understand that, you might start thanking God for things more than three times a day.
This article has been edited from the form in which it originally appeared on Christian Life News.
Image credit: Giuseppe Milo, edited (CC 2.0)