God is great
God is good
Let us thank Him for our food
That simple little four line (or it is two?) prayer was the first I ever learned. I’ve always loved it for its poetic quality- admit it, it’s kinda fun to say- and for its incredible brevity, especially considering its traditionally precedes one of the most sacred events in any man’s day (i.e. dinner). But lately, I’ve come to see this childhood prayer in a new light, embracing it not only for its practicality but for its profoundness as well.
God is great
God is good
I’m convinced that the six words that begin this appeal form perhaps the most essential truth any of us can grasp in this life. Why? Because they tell us in the simplest, most direct words possible who God is and what He is like. A.W. Tozer once famously wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” If you buy that (and I do), then you can’t afford to get this wrong.
So what is God like? How should we think about Him, and thus relate to Him and share Him with others? Well, at the most fundamental level, as our little prayer teaches us, He is great, and He is good. And do you know what the most important word in that description is? It’s the little conjunction sitting right in the middle- and.
Many people, if they believe there is a God, think about Him at one of two extremes. They take the description above and make a seemingly simple but profoundly impactful conjunctive swap. For many, God is great and God is good is replaced by God is great or God is good. That switch makes a huge difference.
If God is only great, as some people see Him, we should be scared to death of Him. If He is all holiness, all might, all jealousy, let’s face it- we could have nothing to do with Him. He wouldn’t- indeed, couldn’t- tolerate the sight of us in His presence, much less have any interest in carrying on an intimate relationship with us. A great only God is the most fearsome thing we could ever conceive of.
On the flip side, if God is only good, as many people in our culture believe, we should ignore Him completely, lest we be disappointed in His inability to be anything more than our big buddy in the sky. If God is all grace, peace, and compassion- all undeniably great qualities- but has no real power in Him, then for all His good intentions toward us, He couldn’t really make much of a difference in our lives (or eternities, for that matter). He might be a super nice guy who makes us feel warm and fuzzy, but at the end of the day, He can’t do anything to solve the problems- namely, our own sin- that hold us in bondage and despair. A good only God is perhaps the most disappointing thing we could ever imagine.
But what happens when perfect greatness and complete goodness come together? You get the biblical Gospel- and the God who makes it possible (and true)! You get a holy God who wrath toward sin is accompanied by a deep, passionate love for sinners- a love so great that it would motivate Him to do the unthinkable. God poured out His just judgment on sin on Himself- on His only Son- so that we might be forgiven of sin and transformed from slaves into sons and daughters. And then, in the context of that love relationship, we are able to rest in God’s unending goodness while also walking in the confidence that comes with the knowledge of His amazing greatness.
Our God is not an either/or God. If He were, He wouldn’t be God. Instead, He is a both/and- both might and compassion, wrath and mercy, holiness and love. That’s what I think about when I think about God- and it’s the most beautiful, life altering thought I’ve ever had. How are you thinking about God today?
Todd Blount has the privilege of serving kids, students, and families as Family Pastor at Fellowship Church in Prairieville, LA. He is native of south Louisiana and a graduate of Baylor University (B.A., Communications) and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Standard). He has been married to his beautiful wife Kerri for five years, and they have two crazy kids, Tristin and Jude. You can find Todd on twitter (@toddmblount) or read more of his thoughts at his blog, toddblount.blogspot.com.