Do the Right Thing
I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15 NLV
Last night my daughter and I went to an amazing Passover Seder Dinner and Pageant at Windsor Village’s Power Center. (http://www.kingdombuilders.com/). We were led through the Seder meal by the Pastoral Team and a talented and inspiring cast of adult and children dramatists, dancers, and singers. The story began with Moses delivering the people of Israel from the grip of Pharaoh and culminated in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The performing “family” who gathered around the Seder meal made the connection for their children and us between the Passover during the exodus from Egypt and the Lord’s Supper we celebrate today.
What captures my thinking today as I reflect on the Bible message expertly and beautifully performed for us last night is how two of the, let’s say villains, of the epic drama, Pharaoh and Judas, thought they were doing the right thing. Okay, you don’t have to agree with me, but I believe that Pharaoh was determined to do what his god and his vision guided him to do for his people. In the enactment, Pharaoh prayed to his god for guidance and afterwards became resolved to not let the people of Israel go away from Egypt as God had commanded. He thought he was right—or as Scripture says, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” The outcome was Pharaoh did not do the right thing.
Judas, one of Jesus’ selected disciples, betrayed Jesus to the authorities who wanted to kill him. Judas thought he was giving Jesus an opportunity to show his power as King of the Jews. Some Bible scholars (no, I don’t mean me!!) suggest that Judas wanted Jesus to break the Jewish people out of the bondage of the Romans and become the King he was expecting. Judas’ suicide after the betrayal is a result of the despair he felt when he realized he had not done the right thing. Although, he thought he had been right when he made the decision to turn Jesus over to his death for just thirty pieces of silver. We know, reading about the event thousands of years later, that Jesus’ kingdom was not earthly, but everlasting. But, we also learn that Judas’ betrayal was part of God’s plan for our salvation.
As we complete our Fast tomorrow, I think about times during these 40 days I believed myself to be right. I have spoken to my daughter or a friend with what felt like honesty to me, but it wasn’t right for them. I do know how to speak with love and graciousness (my mother would have it no other way), but when I am “in the moment” my impulse is to say the unfiltered version of my thoughts and later discover that I had hurt a person I love.
I learned during these 40 days of fasting that I need to sit in stillness and meditate to be my kinder, gentler self. When I become too frenzied, too tired, too hungry 😦 I become someone I don’t want to be. I have learned as I listened for God’s voice these 40 days that I don’t need to go faster to get more done; sometimes I need to slow down and take time to meditate. Just 15 minutes of meditation adds hours of quality, sane thoughts and actions to my day. I know what is right. I want to do what is right because I am more calm and easier to be around. However, sometimes, like Pharaoh and Judas, I believe that what I am doing is the right thing because it is what I want to do.
The good news is God takes my mistakes, missteps, and mishaps and uses them to make me a better person. God took Pharaoh and Judas’ actions to bring salvation to a people. I know God can transform my impulsive acts into renewed relationships that are more open, honest, and loving. I thank God for that.
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NRSV
Prayer: Dear God who is merciful and patient, help me do the right thing. Then, when I don’t/can’t/won’t do the right thing, I pray you will make both my mistake and me right for your purpose. Amen.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Iscariot Gives several versions of the events surrounding Judas betraying Jesus
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5327692 The Lost Gospel of Judas uncovers a Judas who was Jesus’ friend and who acted with Jesus to fulfill the prophesy.
http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/musings/pharaohs-paradox A Rabbi’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s decision.