There’s good and bad in everyone

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, June 16, 2016

On the third Sunday of June we celebrate Father’s Day. No doubt there will be many sermons on that Sunday extolling the virtues of fathers.

But this Father’s Day our attention has been abruptly shaken by the murders in Orlando, Fla. The thought that such deep-seated hate could result in so much carnage leaves us numb from any kind of celebration.

So in the light — or the darkness — of such a tragedy, what do you say about Father’s Day? Once the tears have dried a little, maybe something my father, now gone almost 40 years, said might apply. The former Army major said: “Son, people are the same wherever you go.

There’s good and there’s bad in everyone.” I remember hearing that especially whenever I, in my youthful ignorance and often stupidity, made a comment about someone who was different, someone who was other. From his experience in World War II when he saw some of the best and some of the worst human beings can do to one another, my father knew that relegating people to easy categories was not helpful.

There’s good and there’s bad in everyone, including (maybe especially) ourselves. We have the capacity for great good. And we have the capacity for great evil. It’s like the old tale of the Native American grandfather who told his grandson: “I feel like there are two wolves in me. One is mean, nasty and violent. The other is good, loving and kind.” The grandson asked, “Which one wins?” And the grandfather said, “The one I feed.”

In the midst of our rush to judgment upon the one who did the killings and those whom we think created an environment for this to happen, maybe we need to ask ourselves: Which wolf do we feed? The one who is nasty, who enjoys making cutting comments in person or on Facebook? Or the person who genuinely cares about someone else, who is always looking for the best in others?

Throughout his ministry Jesus often talked about God as Abba, Father or maybe even something like “Daddy.” It was a note of endearment, a term of relationship. Jesus felt his relationship with God as close as his next breath.

What is our relationship with God like? Do we think of God as a mean father, one who is abusive? Or do we think of God as a loving father, who cares deeply and gives of himself to his family, who calls on us to remember our connection with others? I guess it depends upon which image of God we feed.

REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is