I’ve been pondering these words of C. S. Lewis for years: “God doesn’t love us because we are good; because God loves us, God makes us good.” This goodness (dikaiosune in Greek) is deep and sweet, yet also courageous and virtuous. It is an attractive goodness, like what you see in a really good grandmother. For such a person, we behave in kind, brave, even honorable ways that surprise us. We go the extra mile without thinking about it. This is the relational edge of spiritual formation, which Lewis outlined so well in the last two sections of Mere Christianity.
God can love people into goodness in several ways, one of which is how God loves us through certain people. For example, I’ve noticed how a certain person in my life treats me in a loving way and the result is to make me good (or a little better) without my trying to be. This person in my life loves me into goodness by:
- loving me for my own self, not for what I do or accomplish;
- not joining others who praise me for things that are not wholly good (pushing the river, performing, making a big deal over him);
- not running over me, and not allowing me to run over him;
- believing in me by pointing me beyond where I am; he sort of spots the smallest amount of goodness in me and seems to assume it is all of me. He might say, “I know that you … (something good that is me only 5% of the time), and I think, Yes, God, let it be so!
In other words, this person sees the best about me and capitalizes on it. Such treatment woos my rebellious, contrary self into goodness.
Join the Conversation
How is God loving you into goodness? Whom is God using to do this? What kind of attractive goodness would you like to be wooed into?
Jan Johnson is the author of twenty books including Invitation to the Jesus Life and Abundant Simplicity and a thousand articles and Bible studies. She speaks at retreats and conferences, and teaches (adjunct) at Azusa Pacific University and Hope International University. Also a spiritual director, Jan holds a D. Min. in Ignatian Spirituality and Spiritual Direction. She lives with her husband in Simi Valley, California. You can visit her at JanJohnson.org.