Influential Christian leaders including Jackie Hill Perry and Levi Lusko recently discussed the goodness of God in a fractured world, the reality of spiritual transformation, and how demonic forces continually call into question the character of God.
During a Passion 2021 Conference session hosted by Shelley Giglio, Perry, an author and hip-hop artist, revealed that the more she reads about God, the more she realizes that He is “good." While circumstances are tangible and loud, God is invisible, and thus, it takes faith to understand He is good when things are bad.
“I had to look throughout the Scriptures, and then see that at His right hand are pleasures forevermore, or the fact that while I was in sin ... Christ Jesus died for me, or the fact that I'm sealed I have an inheritance in Christ Jesus,” she said.
Though Scripture is clear about God’s goodness, there is a “real devil, a serious enemy, and demonic forces that really tempt us to judge God in accordance with how we feel rather than what He's revealed in the son,” Perry warned.
“And so I think that's the task: stop discerning or judging or projecting onto God these behaviors that don't fit Him. He cannot be anything other than Himself, which is holy. Out of that which is good, faithful, gentle, kind, loving, patient, just.”
The roundtable also discussed the reality of transformation in Christ. A popular spoken word artist, Perry said she was previously a “slave to sexual sin in a variety of different ways,” from pornography to lesbianism.
But mainly, Perry said, she was guilty of “unbelief,” adding: “I did not see God as the greatest, most glorious being that existed. I think I thought I was that. That's why I submitted to myself as if I was better than He was.”
“The transformation was simply my eyes being awakened and unveiled to the beauty of God,” she continued. “That's what regeneration is, the fancy word for transformation, is that the Holy Spirit comes inside of us, unveils our eyes so we can now see reality. And the reality is that He's good.”
Lusko, the lead pastor of Fresh Life Church, added that a "real barrier to change” is that we look at it as “transactional,” as in, “I should be able to download this, buy this, believe this, and see instant change.”
But the Bible is clear that transformation is “relational and agricultural,” Lusko stressed.
“It's about seeds and seasons,” he said. “I think it's easy to give 20 years to the devil and give two weeks to God and then throw our hands up and go, ‘“Why didn't I change? What's wrong with me? It's not working.'”
“Watch rhythms, years, and then you'll see [change] eventually, slowly, imperceptibly, almost,” he advised.
Perry weighed in on how both the emotions and intellect are connected to spirituality, noting that while she grew up in church and heard about Jesus, many talked about Him “with such drudgery where it seemed more about duty than delight.”
“For me, it’s actually a strategy as a communicator of the Gospel to make sure that my language makes Jesus as beautiful as He actually is because I want you to not only engage intellectually, but I want your emotions to connect with the fact that He is good,” she explained.
God created our affections so we can primarily enjoy Him — not other humans or earthly goods, she said.
“Out of my enjoyment of Him I'm actually able to have my affections ... stewarded in such a way where I don't love anybody too much ... in a way that leads to idolatry, and that's not good.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the annual Passion Conference, led by Pastor Louie Giglio, was held virtually this year. The annual event is geared toward young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 and aims to “glorify God by uniting students in worship, prayer and justice for spiritual awakening in this generation.”