Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
When one of my children was a toddler, I signed her up to participate in a research study on lying with Queen’s University and the Child Development Centre. I was absolutely sure that my child, in all of their fair-haired golden gloriousness, would blow the researchers away with the depth of their innocence and integrity.
Oh how wrong I was.
My child ‘lied like a rug’.
I was mortified. The researcher had to spend some extra time explaining to me that this was entirely developmentally appropriate. That all children, this same age, can’t distinguish between something being factual, and something being false, and that they believe something to be true “because they want it to be true”. Yes, its entirely self-serving. Yes, toddlers really are pretty self-serving. The researcher went on to explain that virtues such as honesty and integrity are things that have to be taught over time, and taught not only by parents and families, but all of society at large.
This week the Lectionary handed me the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba. I totally cringed when I saw this story because – well – its this story of David’s increasing deceit and dishonesty that results in Bathsheba being victimized, an unwanted pregnancy, Uriah being murdered (a complicated ‘hit’ perpetuated by Joab), and a whole lot of nastiness. The story starts with David skirting his military responsibilities by returning home ahead of the troops and then just spirals from there. A small, selfish act, turning into this great big sticky mess of murder and mayhem. The spiral never stops until Nathan, the prophet, confronts David in a subsequent chapter.
And yet, the Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart”. Twice.
And why? Sigh. This is where its pretty clear to me that being a Christian is hard work. David is called “a man after God’s heart” basically because he came clean about what he had done every time he really messed up (and my goodness he messed up), and then continued to seek God and committed to following God’s ways. So the story – as seamy as it is – is more a story of the character of God meeting us with Grace after grace, instead of the character of David.
Although it also reminds us of the necessity of being honest and transparent before God in order to receive this grace.
And yet, transparency, honesty and integrity are apparently things that we aren’t born with. In fact, if the example of many of our current leaders, and many of my acquaintances is any indication – transparency, honesty and integrity are also not things that are well taught in our world right now. Instead we give virtue to power, or perhaps popularity, or materialism. Goodness is not marked by honesty and truthfulness. Goodness instead is marked by how much ‘stuff’ you have, whether or not you ‘look good’ or have a lot of people who do things you ask them to do. And honesty? Well often its seen as ‘disrespectful’ or ‘demanding’ or even ‘impolite’ or ‘unkind’. The Nathan’s of this world; calling people out for their terrible behaviour are disregarded at best, and destroyed at worst.
And yet, as Christians, we are called to a different path. A path that is becoming increasingly difficult and increasingly devalued. A path that calls us to present ourselves in such a way that is ‘unashamed’. A path that calls us to truth and integrity – and when we fall short (which, yup, we will) means that we openly seek forgiveness and grace.
Because at the end of the day – what matters is not that we ‘look good’ but that we ‘look like God’. Because that’s the image that we were created in.
Blessing today and remember you are Loved.
~ Rev. Lynne
PS – This weeks pics are all just things that make me happy – my garlic curing in my sunroom, the Basil plant that Joanne gave me, the silly fountain I got for my (now blue) swimming pool, and this years tomatoes finally growing.