Today’s Readings: Psalm 96; Obadiah 15-21; Matthew 19:23-30; 1 Peter 2:1-10
When I was in high school I had an experience like virtually everyone on the face of the earth. There was a kid who was in the grade behind me who got on my nerves more than any other human being on the face of the planet. He was the most conceited person I had ever met. He was convinced, for instance, that he was God’s gift to women. He was also the most condescending person I had ever been around. He thought he was smarter and wittier than anyone else. Oh, and did I forget to mention he was incredibly two-faced. He would pretend to be one of your best friends to your face, and then berate you when he hung out with others.
For the first couple of years after I graduated, I would check in with friends to see how my former classmates were doing. Whenever I did this, I always made a point of asking about this individual. I hate to admit it now, but there was a part of me that was hoping he would fail (i.e. drop of college, have a troubled relationship, etc.).
I know, I know – I was being incredibly small and petty. Eventually I got over it. In an odd sort of way I’m thankful for having had that experience, however, because it allows me to understand some of the sentiments contained in passages like today’s passage from Obadiah.
As I read the opening words from the passage – “God’s Judgment Day is near for all the godless nations” – I can almost feel the adrenalin rush that felt when I would be around my nemesis in the halls of my old high school. “As you have done, it will be done to you” – the passage continues... As I read those words I’m almost tempted to stick out my tongue and say, “Neiner, Neiner, Neiner”. Needless to say, they reflect that very human part of us that wants to see those who have wronged us fail miserably (especially if they have caused us pain or done us wrong).
Thankfully, today’s passage from Obadiah doesn’t leave us there – in a place where we could be content to simply gloat over the downfall of an enemy. No, the passage ultimately reminds us what’s really important – that a rule (or way of being) be established “that honor’s God’s kingdom” (Obadiah 21 from The Message). That bottom line helps get my thinking back on track.
Perhaps you have someone in your life who pushes all of your buttons – someone whose downfall you are secretly even hoping (dare I say praying) for. If that’s the case, I would encourage you to quit personalizing the situation and let go of your simmering animosity. Re-channel your energies into praying for something far more important: the establishment of a world “that honor’s God’s kingdom”. Til next time…