In part 1 of this final installment on The Good Place I focused on the roots of the reasons why we do good things. I challenged that too often our motivations to live a good life are rooted in our fear of going to Hell, or our desire to be safe in Heaven instead of simply living Godly lives for the sake of God’s love and call to do so.
Our desire should be rooted in serving God in all the ways we can – not out of obligation, or fear, or hope for a future – because of the joy produced in our hearts from knowing God and letting the love of God influence our actions.
That’s the recap. And it ties into the predominant theme present on the show as well. The characters are driven to be good people because they are afraid of The Bad Place and they’d rather the security and benefits of the Good Place. There is no appreciation or love for the creator of The Good Place driving their motivations (nor does it appear that the creator of The Good Place loves all that they’ve created in the same we we know God does).
But the show takes a little philosophical and theological turn in Season 3.
By Season 3 episode 4 the main characters find out that they were gifted a second chance at life in the world after having a ridiculous amount of do overs in “The Good Place” (the fake good place that was actually the bad place), and they also find the truth that after this ridiculous amount of re-dos there, AND the way they’re tracking in this second chance at life, not matter what they do they they are, in the words of Eleanor, “doomed.” Chidi says, “our fates are sealed.”
There’s this sense of being predestined to fail (which, in itself would be another interesting conversation to start, had I the time) Here’s a funny clip of Chidi coming to terms that no matter what he does he’s bound to end up in The Bad Place.
The plan that Eleanor has is this: no matter what they do, their fates are sealed, they are doomed to end up at The Bad Place, but they can do all that they can to help others escape that fate by sharing love and doing good and helping others to do good and become better people SO THAT they don’t end up in The Bad Place like Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani.
now, this is interesting! What a turn! I have a feeling that the selflessness of this plan might actually be enough to get them in the Good Place on the show, but that’s just a theory. Time will tell.
But, regardless, it’s an interesting twist and it reminds me of Samson in the OT book of Judges a little bit.
Found in Judges 13-16 is the story of Samson, who, in a nutshell, was set apart to be a holy man of God, but his weakness for the ladies did him in time and time again. At one point he fails the Israelites (and God) by giving himself over to the enemy Philistines who, with Samson out of the way, will enslave the Israelites, rule over them, and suppress their faith and worship to Yahweh.
He realises that his fate is sealed and it seems that his certainty of having God’s favour is lost. He’s defeated but has accepted his doom. But he pleads to God that he may give him the one last burst of strength to save those he shoulda/coulda/ was meant to protect before he dies.
If you don’t know the story, stop now and read Judges chapters 13-16.
The Philistines mock and threaten the Israelites. They prey on their fear and in their pride they parade a chained and beaten, defeated, Samson around this grand building, displaying their power over the Israelites. In a last ditch effort to make up for what he was supposed to be – he prays for the strength to knock down the entire building, crushing the Philistine leaders and killing himself in the process.
This story reminds me of what’s happening on the show right now because Samson finally does a selfless act for the benefit of his people. He realises that he’s lost and that he’s failed at life, at least the one God called him to, but he goes out saving others from a wretched life that awaited them.
Isn’t this exactly what Eleanor’s plan is like – using one final opportunity to save others from a wretched life that might await them in The Bad Place by showing them the importance of living a good life?
Still, though it’s not quite the same as doing good out of the Love of God. It’s selfless, and close. It resembles a biblical story, but it’s not quite the same.
I don’t know at this point where they show will go with this. I don’t know if this turn will be enough to change the “fate” of the crew, nor do I know if Samson’s final act was enough to save him (even though it’s weird to think that killing a mass of people would actually be considered good to God. We get a lot of that in the OT). It might have been, and it might happen on the show.
What do you think?
Essentially the show offers 3 reasons to do good:
- so you don’t go to The Bad Place, because that would suck for eternity.
- so you get to go to The Good Place, because that would be sweet for eternity.
- to inspire others to do good in hopes that it’s enough that they will get to the Good Place.
None of these reasons glorify God though. Matthew 5:14-16 says this:
14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Our good works are done our of our love for God and they should always glorify God, not ourselves.
What do you think of the way the show contrasts their reasons with the Biblical reasons?
What do you think the main reasons people do good in the world really are?
Where does all this sit with you? Why do you do good things, for you or for God?