The Divine Mystery exists in each of us. We are Stewards of that Mystery.
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
I don’t track the genesis of urban myths. I do know that as a concept they didn’t start in late 20th century America. Sayings, like the one above, have been around as long as there have been people in the world.
As well-known as this saying is, it does not show up anywhere in the Bible. On the contrary, Scripture does indicate, in many instances, that Godliness is much more important than cleanliness, modern advertising (think the Swiffer) notwithstanding.
“Revenge is mine, says the Lord.” This is another example of a phrase that is so common that we assume it is a quote from somewhere in Scripture.
If you look up the many instances where the idea of revenge is utilized by God as punishment for bad earthly behavior, the frequency is stunningly sparse. There are enough individual statements in the Bible so that any person can prove almost anything. The idea, though, that God is looking to “smite” evildoers after the Flood story is hard to support from the record.
Revenge as smiting our opponents is an idea that belongs to this world, not the next. It is not a kingdom concept. In John 18:36, Jesus says that if his kingdom were of this world, his servants would fight. They don’t, while he is being arrested, and the implication is that these earthly principles are not the paramount principles for his followers to espouse.
Seeking the Lord, seeking a deeper understanding of our faith, is centered on re-understanding what we currently know and replacing what we know in terms of Kingdom ideas, Kingdom principles.
Here is one expression of what I mean. My father and I have had much to work through in our relationship. In the last few years, we have done just that. We are in the best place we have ever been. When I was younger, I was very clear about all the ways that he had underperformed as my dad. In my worst moments, I laid in bed at night and took solace in the idea that God would have his revenge on my mistreatment. And God did.
How? He gave me children of my own.
It’s as if God was saying, If you want revenge, here’s what I have in mind: you get to perform the same task as your father. Let’s investigate your thirst for revenge once you have taken on the same task your father did.
Once I better understood God’s idea of revenge, I began to understand why mercy is such a prominent theme of Scripture.
Questions of the day:
When have I received mercy and experienced it as coming from God? Where have I refused to exercise mercy?