People just ain’t no good

Russell Minick Leave a Comment

I think about all of this and keep going back to the “made in the image of God” and wonder why it is that we are capable to committing such evil acts?”

Well, good question. People are able to do such amazingly evil things precisely because we are made in the image of God.

Here’s a less than cheerful little theme song you may have heard on the Shrek II soundtrack. Notice how the power of love is pivotal to the death/despair which defines this lovely lament:

People just ain’t no good
A thing that’s well understood
You can see it everywhere you look
People just ain’t no good

We were married under cherry trees
Under blossom we made our vows
All the blossoms come sailing down
Through the streets and through the playgrounds

The sun would stream on the sheets
Awoken by the morning bird
We’d buy the Sunday newspapers
Never read a single word

People, they ain’t no good
People, they ain’t no good
People, they ain’t no good

Seasons came, seasons went
The winter stripped the blossoms bare
A different tree now lines the streets
Shaking its fists in the air

The winter slammed us like a fist
The windows rattling in the gales
To which she drew the curtains
Made out of her wedding veils

People, they ain’t no good
People, they ain’t no good
People, they ain’t no good at all

To our love, send a dozen white lilies
To our love, send a coffin of wood
To our love, let all the pink-eyed pigeons coo
That people, they just ain’t no good

To our love, send back all the letters
To our love, a valentine of blood
To our love, let all the jilted lovers cry
That people, they just ain’t no good

It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They can comfort you, some even try
They nurse you when you’re ill of health
They bury you when you go and die

It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They’d stick by you if they could…
But that’s just bull****
People just ain’t no good

People, they ain’t no good
People, they ain’t no good
People, they ain’t no good

People, they ain’t no good at all

Lovingly written and performed by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

People are able to do such amazingly evil things precisely because we are made in the image of God. How is that?

God is SPIRIT. Now, we normally focus on the word spirit as being immaterial. Both the Hebrew and the Greek for spirit refer to wind, to breath. It is true that the spirit is normally that invisible aspect. When you go to a funeral where the body is shown it is really obvious. That is him, but… he’s not here. How is he both here and not here? Body? Yes. Spirit? No. But even if the cadaver were hooked up to electrodes and able to move, it would not be the same. Spirit is not just the invisible breath which gives us life and makes us move, spirit is the aspect of life which chooses. Spirit is will.

To be made in the image of God is to be made capable of acting from one’s will. Every time someone offends or blesses us, curses or delights us, it is because their will has acted. God made us in his image, and he empowered us to use the will he had given in ways that are good. What he did not do is give us his character. Rather, he gave us instruction to trust him, his character communicated in commands and advice. He gave warnings. The use of the will, given by God, without the character of goodness that is inherent in God, will result in death. People didn’t listen. People don’t listen.

When you sell someone a cup of coffee, it is because they have ordered it. They have used their will to choose. What kills you is all the unnecessary choices so devoid of the character of God which accompany that basic choice. They may choose to demand instead of request, exalting their will over and against yours. Your will then has a choice. The temptation is to ignore God’s wisdom to love them. Why? To love the rude one must pan back far enough to see a much wider scope of reality. But when confrontation happens our vision tunnels. We see the threat coming and we marshal our own defenses. Some curl up, but most realize they will get pummeled if they don’t strike back. Feelings of offense quickly boil our emotions into pure contempt. If we mix our feelings, we hesitate. The defensive urge, to eliminate that which is attacking us by attacking them decisively, burns away any impeding uncertainty. We do not just ‘dislike’ their attitude. Startlingly, we resent their existence and are barely restrained from acting on that. Then again, like mentioned in the original letter which triggered this post, not everyone resists acting on the contempt for the existence of other spirits (wills; persons) which defy the uniqueness of our own. People lunge at others with words and worse. People can be, well, no good.

God’s image (the ability to exercise the will) without God’s character (wise goodness in line with actual reality) is evil (decisively rebellious and dangerous).

People, they ain’t no good. But they sure are great; so be careful.

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