The Good, Bad and Ugly?


The 1966 film ‘The Good. The Bad, and The Ugly had as its characters: the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’ but the ‘good’ characters were a little more difficult to detect…

Most of us, at least those of us who call ourselves Christians, are fully aware that we are not ‘good’. We may be ‘nice people’ but ‘goodness’ as an actual [possible] state of affairs is another matter. Sure, we know that we, as professing followers of Christ,need to be ‘different’–indeed we are encouraged to:’Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace…’ ( 2 Corinthians 13:11). But we’re not really ‘good’, are we? (rhetorical). God is Good —‘the good’— the ultimate goodness.

Thankfully, we are not commissioned to carry out ‘research’ regarding the ‘goodness, badness or ugliness’ of others — but what of those who ‘trust’ in their own goodness—who believe in the ‘universal goodness of mankind’? Should we not be concerned by their introspective diagnosis? We are, rightfully concerned for the first category of people: ‘the good’—as we really are so glad that such people exist—it does help ‘restore’ ones confidence in humanity—so we may conclude that there is ‘a glimmer of hope’—and this ‘hope’ would based on a false premise—that ‘mankind is good’ and that his environment may be blamed for any inconsistencies in his behaviour.

What is the difference between ‘the ignorant good’ i.e. those who live good lives and who have not even considered the possibility of their not being ‘good enough’ [from God’s perspective] and the ‘dissident good’ i.e. those who are convinced they are good and will not allow a second opinion? To fully understand this we need firstly to realise that we [humans] have a bias against any possible ‘ruling’ that declares our species as being in need of judgement or of justification for ‘the way we are’.You be the ‘judge’ of this—though it is a mission you may not be able to acomplish.Believe it or not there are even Christians who think that justification is a ‘human right’ rather than a gift of God. The reasoning behind such thinking is that there are very few ‘bad’ people—that the majority of people are ‘good’. But this ‘reasoning’ has not taken into consideration the evidence against it—as history (recent and past) confirms; neither has it taken Scripture seriously—’taken God at his word.’

Jesus commissioned his disciples to go out and ‘compel them—’the good,bad and the ugly’ —to come in, ‘so that my house may be filled.’ (Luke 14:23). To compel is a strong verb; it shows urgency; it does not indicate a laissez-faire attitude toward making disciples, neither does it suggest that making disciples should be constrained by the latest missional ‘know how’ that [may] encourage journeying but not discipling.

Jesus said: ‘Go into all the world and make known the Gospel to the ‘good, ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’.

Derek White

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