“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17-18
The epic battle of good vs. evil has played out in a number of places and ways. The musical Wicked tells the unexpected backstory of Elphaba, the “Wicked Witch of the West.” We may know her better as the cackling, green faced, woman who is allergic to water in The Wizard of Oz. In Wicked, Elphaba becomes roommates with Glinda, the “Good Witch”, at school. As we get to know both of these women, the lines between good and evil get blurry. Elphaba is supposed to be bad, yet she is heroic and kind. Glinda is supposed to be “good,” yet she is shallow, selfish, and a bully.
The world is full of “Glindas” and “Elphabas.” When Jesus walked this world, Jesus didn’t surround himself with the Pharisee, “Glindas.” He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, mentally ill, sick and deformed. In other words, Jesus was friends with the “wicked people,” or sinners. When Jesus was asked about his choice of company, he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13 NRSV)
What sort of company do we keep? Jesus calls us out into the “wicked” world to shine God’s light and goodness in the darkness. In the musical Wicked Elphaba and Glinda become unlikely friends. At the end they sing a duet together...
“I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return…
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good”
Building friendships with people who are different from us is one of the ways God brings about goodness and transformation in our lives. If God is in every good and beautiful gift, we are missing out on experiencing God when we ignore those whom we write off as “Elphabas.” At the very foundation of all of our missions is the desire to build relationships with people different from us. Seeing the good in others sometimes means seeing the darkness in ourselves. When we truly know God, and one another, we are all “changed for good.” A good resolution for 2020 might be to make new friends. May we all experience the power of unlikely friendships so we can see God’s goodness at work in unlikely places!
Pastor Adriane Curtis