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As people of faith, we are called upon to live in a godly way, to exhibit the qualities of our God. Things get a little tricky, however, when we start to contemplate which God we mean. Is it the God of the ancient Israelites, who sets foliage ablaze and washes a sinful world clean by flooding it? Or is it the compassionate God of the New Testament, personified by Jesus Christ, who tells us the most important thing we can do is to love one another? I tend to side with the latter, but in life, I often fail.

In the Bible, God is often portrayed as a lion (or lioness). There is certainly fierceness there, and fierce love. But there is also fear. On the other hand, the Bible often refers to Christ as “the lamb of God,” a much meeker presentation. And we know “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Well, that’s all good and well. But can they get things done? If we’re choosing up sides for righteous change, are the meek really going to get picked first? I don’t think so.

There is a time for meekness, and a time to roar like a lion. There are times when love must be silent and tender and comforting, and times when it must yell and fight and struggle for justice. We are not meant, I think, to be merely one or the other. In the end, the lion and lamb must lie down together, in our hearts and in our actions, rising to deal with each situation as God would have us do.

Do I pull out the lion when I ought to be lamb-like? Sure I do. It’s time for me to cultivate my inner lamb a little more. Lord, grant me patience, and quiet my roar. Unless that’s just what is needed.

They say cleanliness is next to godliness.  I’m not sure either one of these is actually a word, to be honest.  In either case, I miss the mark.  By a mile.  My house is usually cluttered and messy, and I’m not even close to being an example of someone who might remotely be considered “godly.”  But I do give both my best shot.

Just what does it mean to be “godly” anyway?

I much prefer affirmations I can understand.  Better still, ones that fit on a post-it note.

One of the greatest sayings about the nature of existence is also the shortest.  “Simplify, simplify!” Thoreau said.  In his day, he was probably thought of as an oddball.  He went out to live in the woods and examine the lint in his navel.  Well, not really.  He went to find his place in the universe, and came to the conclusion that we don’t need much to create a meaningful life.

I like to believe that truth isn’t complicated, at its core.  That it really is possible to do the right thing, be a good person, and know at the end of the day that you did your best.  This is as close as I can get to an actual definition of “godliness,” since after all, so many of us worship different gods.

So here’s my simple theory about people of faith:  if you don’t treat people well, you don’t know God.

There are many ways of getting the gospel out into the world – or should I say, the gospel as each individual interprets it – and none of them is as effective as living your creed, quietly.  I like when people tell me about the good deeds they do. I like it better when they actually do the good deeds instead of talking about it.

For me, the litmus test to determine if someone is living what they believe is examining how they treat people. Some might say that the end justifies the means when you’re trying to save peoples’ immortal souls.  Or that, in business matters, it’s acceptable to be brusque or even rude to people if they are not cooperating with you or haven’t done their job well.

All I can tell you is that how you treat people really matters.  There may be someone you’ve asked to do a job for you, and they’ve done it half-heartedly.  It may be that they’ve got a newborn at home and haven’t slept at all for days.  It may be that their mother is sick and in the hospital.  If you don’t know the whole story, assume there is one.  Even if, like me, you can’t always keep up with the housework, keep up with the soulwork.  Have a heart.  Represent your faith and your God by treating people well.  How about if I come up with a catchy cliché to sum up this post:  Kindness creates clean karma.  Might not fit on a post-it note, but I’ll bet it would work in a fortune cookie!


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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