Foundation: All Earthly Goodness is Borrowed

I want to lift my own thinking about pleasure, joy, and soul satisfaction. To do that I’m starting this writing project to challenge my imagination and the imagination of anyone who reads it.

The basis for these writings stands on a core belief I have: that is, everything which is good and enjoyable and satisfying in this world borrows its goodness from the Source of All Things. I think the Source of All Things is a person, namely the person described in the ancient Hebrew and Christian scriptures. For many reasons I’m taking those writings as more authoritative than any other writing or experience.

I believe it teaches that nothing is good in and of itself. Everything gets its goodness from The Good One who defines what good means (Romans 3:10-20).

"What about in the beginning,” you say, “when God said everything was good?”

I’m glad you asked. The goodness of creation in the beginning was borrowed, like an object receiving its color from light. Did you know a red ball is not inherently red? It merely absorbs the full color spectrum of light, except red. The red light bounces back to your eyes causing you to see red.

Goodness is the same way. God saw everything was good because he saw himself reflected back in what he had made. The fall of man smudged and dented all of creation, distorting its reflection of God’s goodness. Some things have been so damaged that there is no reflection left at all.

That means goodness wasn’t an essential attribute of creation. The essence of something is the part that never changes. If it changed then it wouldn’t be the same thing. Since creation started off good but became corrupt, that means goodness wasn’t in its essence but merely a temporary trait. Goodness was borrowed or reflected.

For example, a movie can be good because in some way it reflects God’s goodness. Even though most times the plot and dialogue don’t speak positively of God directly, the excellence of the craft and the shape of storytelling in general is a reflection of the creative genius of God. The very arc of a good story gets its origin in God. He created the “setting, conflict, climax, resolution” structure that makes for great storytelling.

Poorly crafted movies are “bad” because they don’t reflect God’s excellence in telling the greatest story ever told, the story of the redemption and renewal of creation. It’s not just what the story is about, it’s the way it’s told; it’s the skill with which it’s told. A skillfully crafted movie even if it is about a morally base subject still reflects God’s goodness with the skill with which it is told.

But I’d like to go beyond just seeing how things currently still reflect God’s love and beauty. The purpose of this blog is to imagine what things will look like on the new earth when all the smudges and dents have been repaired.

Actually, there is a mind boggling exception to this idea that all goodness in creation is borrowed. When the Bible speaks of believers as new creations it’s not a metaphor or hyperbole or rhetoric. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-54, Paul says our bodies are sown (buried) perishable but raised (resurrected) imperishable. We’re buried with earth-powered bodies but raised with Spirit-powered bodies.

Follow me here. The essence of something is the part of something that never changes. If it were to change it would no longer be the same thing. So when Paul says we’ll be imperishably Spirit-powered that means our essence will be good, because the Spirit that powers us is good. We’ll be completely and entirely good in an unchangeable way. We won’t be like all other creation that merely reflects God’s good nature. We’ll actually have that nature essentially as our own nature. Crazy stuff.

So that being said. We are going to look at the sometimes uncommon ways to see glimpses of the new earth in the things of the first earth where we find ourselves now. The goal is to raise the bar for what we place our hope in and what we pursue for pleasure and how. Maybe already you’ll look at movies a different way and realize where the pleasure of a good movie really comes from.

My hope is we will all benefit from these musings about Earth 2.0