Steve Bostrom: Goodness-Gracious!

Steve Bostrom

“Good,” a word I used too often in my story, repeatedly got my fifth grade teacher’s red marker. “Too bland!”

Still, people move to Helena because it is a “good” place to live, a “good” place to raise kids, a “good” place to work. Good enough.

At the other extreme, Jesus gives us startling goodness.

Once, “a man ran up and knelt before” (Jesus). “‘Good’ (‘agathos’) Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me ‘good’ (‘agathos’)? No one is ‘good’ (‘agathos’) except God alone.” (Mark 10:17,18).

For Jesus, “good” is white-hot/holy, like the heavenly-threshold-shaking message of angelic warriors: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD Almighty!” (Isaiah 6:3).

Such staggering goodness seems impossible.

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How could Jesus know about searing holy-goodness? After all, Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, couldn’t hold a candle to Helena. When initially skeptical/scoffing Nathaniel learns that Nazareth is Jesus’ home, Nathaniel’s prejudice erupts in a thoughtless run-on cliche: “Can-anything-‘good’ (‘agathos’) come-out-of-Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

Jump to Scotland. People living out in the sticks, the “heath,” were “heathen.”

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