The Pursuit of Goodness

“Mama, what’s your favorite TV show?”

This is a question that my daughter asks me at least once week and I always give her the same answer. Yesterday she asked me again and I gave her the usual response, “I Love Lucy.” then I added, “But I think Once Upon a Time is becoming a contender for that spot.” Now I am not big on watching television, to count the number of shows that I have watched enough to have extensive knowledge of, I wouldn’t need to go past my fingers. (Actually I just counted the number is seven.) Every now and again, however, a show comes along that I deem worthy of my time, and Once Upon a Time certainly fits into that category. During the first two seasons, my favorite characters were Prince Charming and Snow White. I love their story. The love and the commitment they have for/to the other. No matter what has been thrown at them they always find each other, every time. It truly is a beautiful thing.

After watching season three and especially season four, my favorite character changed to Killian Jones, also known as, Captain Hook. This leather clad pirate burst onto the screen at the beginning of season two and he was a villain, joining forces with Regina’s questionable mother Cora. He was consumed by vengeance and was relentless in his pursuit of it. During season two, I found him frustratingly amusing and oddly likeable, I was trying to not like this guy but still did, perhaps hoping that he would change. The season two finale showed that he could change, and the next two seasons proved that he not only could be but that he was a hero.

Killian Jones became my favorite Once Upon a Time character for the same reason that Anakin Skywalker is my favorite Star Wars character, they are both more than just a villain, or rather a guy who became a villain. They were both victims of circumstance and more importantly their reaction to those circumstances. The death of Killian’s brother made him a pirate, and the death of Anakin’s mother made him angry and opened up seeds of doubt. The death of Killian’s first love, Mila, produced in him the pursuit of revenge and he would do anything to get it. The fight with Obi-Wan and especially the death of Padame, caused Anakin to fully give himself to the dark side of the force. Each man needed a reason to see themselves differently, a reason to change, and a reason to do something heroic. For Captain Hook it was Emma, and for Darth Vader it was Luke. Killian and Anakin both figured that the desires of Hook and Vader would bring them satisfaction, but it wasn’t until they began to pursue what is good that they truly were fulfilled.

There are a few Bible verses that discuss the pursuit of goodness, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, tells us to, “Hold fast to what is good.” Matthew 12:35 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in him.” To me this says that if one is to see the good that is in them, then goodness will surely be brought forth. However, the opposite is true if one sees themselves as evil or bad. And sometimes, like Killian and Anakin, one may not necessarily see themselves as evil, but rather encourages the evil or the desires of the flesh. Being angry, fearful, or pursuing revenge is easy, it takes strength to push that aside, to be the hero and to fight only for the good. Now when I say hero, this also includes everyday heroes, something that we all have the capacity to be. So if you are going to be relentless in your pursuit of something let it be for the good, let it be hope, let it be charitable, let it be to help your fellow man. For in that goodness, which is God breathed and Spirit led, you will find fulfillment.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9

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The Spirit of Unforgiveness

There was story in the news recently, the details of which I will not go into for they are not the purpose of this post. But if you “Google” Josh Duggar, I’m certain you will come up with plenty of information about the situation. I discussed in a previous post that I believe that everyone has a Darth Vader, Anakin’s was after power and recognition, and mine was after control. You see, American discovered that Josh Duggar has a Darth Vader, and most people can now only see shining black armor and a red lightsaber.

I saw in (most of) the responses to this undeniably bad news, a lack of grace and unwillingness to forgive. People tossing statistics and hopes that Josh’s past will be daily rubbed in his face. Something that I did not see, a lot of, was the willingness to see that Josh has changed, he is not that person anymore. The Duggar’s chose to make this information public, knowing full well that the “boom” would be lowered on them with much more force and severity. Why? Because they are Christian family. And the general public expects Christians to be perfect rather than the broken, saved by grace people that we are. Imperfection requires forgiveness, which can be difficult because it goes against our human nature. Its easy to be angry and to hurl someone’s past in their face. But Jesus calls us to forgive, it says in Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

This begs the question. Why would Jesus call us to do something that can be so difficult? Because He knows that the unwillingness to forgive can be draining, that grudges get heavy, and that bitterness can steal our joy. To be clear, forgiveness does not mean that one should forget or to quote the popular phrase, “Sweep it under the rug.” But rather chose to recognize that the person has changed and/or to release your own spirit from the burden of carrying a grudge, which can lead to anger.

Obi-Wan also carried within him the spirit of unforgiveness, he believed that Anakin had been completely devoured by the dark side of the force. He could not see past Anakin’s mistakes (which yes they where HUGE mistakes) but, he also refused to even allow the possibility that Anakin could change or that any goodness could be left in him. According to the book, The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan’s spirit was present (but unseen) during Luke’s battle with Darth Vader on the Death Star at the end of Return of the Jedi. And he was completely shocked that Anakin managed to fight his way back from the dark side.

“And suddenly Obi-Wan realized where he had failed. For unlike Luke, Obi-Wan
had not only believed that Anakin was completed consumed by the dark side,
but had actually refused to believe that any goodness could have remained within
Vader. And by refusing to allow that possibility, Obi-Wan had condemned not
only his former friend but his own capacity for hope.”

Jesus calls us to forgive because He knows that it will not only benefit us, but also has the potential to benefit the one who sinned against us. Luke’s willingness to forgive helped Anakin regain his true self and I’m sure that the Duggar family’s willingness to forgive did the same for Josh. And if God can forgive, then with the strength, humility, and peace that is gained by reaching for Him, we humans can forgive too.

If you are carrying the spirit of unforgiveness I encourage you to pray for the strength to forgive.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” -Colossians 3:13