Better than “Good”?

I’ve heard some dumb things the last couple of weeks as I’m making my way through the current Wasteland experience. Many that made me cringe.

But the worst is just one word: “Better”.

Read Genesis, specifically the story of Creation. God says as He completes each stage that it was “Good”.

Then He makes Man. And Man invents “Better”, with a little assistance from Satan.

It’s about deception.. Eve was deceived into believing there was something God was witholding from her. That there was something “better” that was contained in the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

It was a lie then, and it’s a lie now.

“Better” is a lie.

God made things a certain way and said it was Good.

What amazes me is the Tree Eve was tricked into eating from was the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yet somehow that has got confused in the 21st Century.

It began with little things. Language changed. Words’ meaning became inverted. “Wicked”, “Bad”, “Sick” all took on a meaning through slang that was the exact opposite of the original meaning of the words. Other words changed their meanings too, and eventually things slipped through that began to make behaviours God expressly condemned into acceptable parts of behaviour to our “better” society.

A while ago one particular website, Ashley Madison, was the embodiment of this. Life is short, too short not to have an affair, was the “concept” behind the marketing.

And it worked.

Lie built on lie, and ministries were toppled, marriages destroyed, families torn apart. All for the desire for something “better”.

I heard an interview a while later with a man whose marriage had fallen apart after his wife had found out he visited the site – not that he actually had an affair, just that he’d considered it. Another search for “better” instead of working on what is “Good”. The man said he knew he was in trouble when a woman he wrote to wrote back calling him “Tiger”. He explained that it wasn’t the moniker itself that was the issue. It was the effect it had on him because of who had said it. He described how he realised he longed for someone to think of him that way again. He was just “Bob” or “Jim” (I can’t remember his actual name) to his wife. Not “Darling” or “Sweetheart” or any of the pet names they’d had for each other twenty years before when they got married.

So his “good” marriage fell prey to “better”.

Recently a tower block in London burned down, taking 80+ lives with it. Babies, children, parents, the elderly all died. Because a business thought it would be “better” to use a particular cladding on the outside that was slightly cheaper than the fire resistant type.

Sometimes, “better” can be catastrophic.

Yet we don’t learn. Paul writes that the point of the Scriptures is so we don’t have to learn by making mistakes – we can learn from the example of those who came before. It’s the First Century equivalent of “those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it”.

Yet we sit watching tyrant after tyrant elected by “intelligent” populations. Policies from both the far Right and Left wing get thrown at us ad nauseam that historically have proved catastrophic for the countries that have adopted them. Fascism, communism and everything in between being touted as the “latest” ideas.

In England, Jeremy Corbyn wants something “better” than the Tory manifesto – so he suggested policies which were shown in the 1970s to be disastrous for the country. But the youth who voted for him en masse weren’t born then, and haven’t studied history to see the mess the country was in as a result. But on the other side is Theresa May, who seems to want to be Margaret Thatcher. And the policies she’s suggesting are no better. Thirty years ago they may have worked, but it’s 2017 now, not 1987.

Most days it feels like it’s 1984.

The news coming through from America is no better. Donald Trump seems to be bent on making sure his maladministration simply undoes everything Barak Obama did during his administration. If someone had presented the last 12 months as a script to a Hollywood executive twenty years ago they would have been thrown out because any script must be able to withstand the concept of “suspension of disbelief”, and it would have been deemed that the current insanity was too deranged to pass that test. The closest we got was “Demolition Man”, when Stallone got to fight Snipes in a post-apocalyptic future ruled by a crazy leader (Nigel Havers) and Schwarzenegger had been President. All things considered, that was less unlikely than what we’ve ended up with.

So as Christians, what can we do to fight this slide towards chaos?

Firstly, we need to return to a basic set of concepts.

Jesus put it best when He was asked what the greatest Commandment was:

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV

To find the original “Good”, we need to return to the source: God Himself.

As a society, we are devolving at an alarming rate.

I try not to engage too often with atheists online as the results are predictable. If, as a Christian, I challenge them about the issue of Creation the result is universally ridiculed. I get the “so you believe the earth is only 6000 years old” argument – even if I preface my answer with rejecting that notion clearly and unequivocally. If I bring up the example of life itself, using the example of a seed growing into a plant I am always responded to by someone trying to argue nonsense about another clause in my sentence, never the issue of the question itself.

This week I (foolishly, I know) tried to argue a point on the Huffington Post about life. I asked an atheist to explain, if there is no creator, why a scientist can mix the chemical components that make up an acorn into something that on a molecular level looks like an acorn, and to the naked eye looks just like an acorn, yet when placed in soil it simply rots and doesn’t become an oak tree. The response I got was that it was a poor argument for evolution!

I replied that I wasn’t trying to prove or disprove evolution, but that an acorn doesn’t evolve into an oak, it is the seed from which an oak tree grows.

As yet, the atheist has yet to respond.

I’m not surprised. Their own argument defeats them every time.

First we must seek God.

Wholeheartedly. Unflinchingly. Unwavering in our search.

My time in Wasteland – again – is reminding me just how essential it is to do this.

Wasteland is not a waste of time. I think of it as a time of preparation. A time to shake off the dust of the past, to drop everything that is not absolutely vital to our moving forward with God.

It’s not an easy time. And I think how long we spend in the wastes is determined by us. We tend to limit how fast God can work in us by refusing to let go of the past, or daydreaming of a decidedly ungodly future. I’ve been guilty of that in the past, and even a little this time through.

My last major trip in Wasteland cost me 20 years. I’m hoping right now that I learned something from that time I can apply now.

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