Yesterday, I shared the story of when I first encountered the term “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” While it has a Victorian ring to it, I continued to hear this saying for years afterwards – not just among older people, but even repeated by some of my camp counselors, who in retrospect were likely born in the 1960s! I never could get over the ridiculousness of such an assertion – especially given the indiscriminate love of Jesus reported in the Bible, and the community breaking way in which the designation “unclean” had been used. If anything, Jesus – God incarnate – was constantly rubbing up against the unclean. Furthermore, he had explicitly ridiculed the idea that outer cleanliness was in any way reflective of one’s inner rightness with God.
But if Godliness does not mean “holiness,” but instead “sharing a characteristic with God,” then I recently received some insight into how tidiness, at least, might be next to Godliness. It began when I tried to find a notebook that contained my notes on the movie “Blood Done Sign My Name.” I wanted to properly quote something as a launching point for a blog entry. After more than five minutes of searching, I decided that I would be satisfied with the book, because I might locate the incident in there and see if the quote had been preserved intact in the movie. But ten minutes went by without me finding that either. And it occurred to me: God doesn’t lose track of anything! God knows right where everything is. (And God, since you know where my notebook is, I would love to find it soon. Though I’m sure this insight into my limits and your limitlessness was the more important one to have today.)
If I kept a tidier house, I wouldn’t lose track of anything, either. I would be master of my domain!! Hmm… Maybe it is a good thing I don’t always have “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Keeps me humble. 😉