This is one of my favorite “Gs.” It puts so much of the way we live our lives in perspective, helps us to see the countless ways we fail to live joyously free in light of all that God has done for us in Christ. “Whatever sin offers, God offers more, for God offers us himself. God isn’t just good, he’s better—better than everything else—and the true source of all joy” (Chester, 85). The fact that God is good, and has given himself to us in Christ, means that we already have the best of the best, the crême de la crême.
And yet we so often settle for second best. We spend so much of our lives looking for the good life, when God has already given it to us. “One of our problems is that we think only of moments. In the moment, we think the pleasures of sin are real and the joy of God is insubstantial and distant. But in truth it’s the other way around: every joy we experience is but a shadow of the source of all joy, which is God” (Chester, 85).
In John 4, Jesus meets a woman by a well in Samaria. He asks her for a drink, but ends up offering her “living water” that will satisfy her thirst eternally. The trouble with actual water is that it only quenches your thirst for a brief time; we all get thirsty again. What Jesus offers is himself, the water of life, a water that will eternally satisfy our every thirst and longing. Jesus teaches her that worship doesn’t occur in a particular place or even on a special day. True worship is in spirit and in truth. “Worship is about what you desire most, what you think has most worth. Every time you look to God to satisfy your longings, you worship him in spirit and truth. Every time you look elsewhere, you commit idolatry” (Chester, 86).
We so often think of the Christian life as drudgery. It’s all about following rules, not getting to do what I want to. But, Chester writes, “the life of obedience [to God] is not the bad or sad life. It’s the good life. Life with God and for God is the best life you could live. Change is about enjoying the freedom from sin and the delight in God that God gives us through Jesus” (87).
In his classic book, Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton notices that humans are so easily dissatisfied with what we have, and so pursue endless variety. But he wonders what it would be like if man’s “life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of routine?”
A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again.” …Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it make be that God makes every daisy separately, but he has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.
“We so easily grow bored with life. We are weary with sin-induced futility. But God is never bored by life. He is life” (Chester, 88).
Chester closes his reflections on God’s goodness this way:
We worry that eternity will be boring. But that is because we are dead and tired. We look for joy in sin, and we are quickly bored and always moving on in search of more… But in eternity there will be a rush to life running through our veins… Now we are old and tired and cynical. But then we will be young agin, forever young, forever delighting in God (89).
God is good. We don’t have to look elsewhere.