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Mark 088 - Nursed a Grudge



So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to,


Mark 6:19


What a GREAT expression. What a great phrase. Nursed a grudge. There’s just no way to improve it.


We’ve all had enemies. There are enemies, and then there are enemies! And Herodias is not someone that you wanted to be on her bad side. She was so mad at John that her fury never took a break, it never let up. How dare he criticize her about this private matter. Who did he think he was?


Did those words catch your attention; he dared to criticize her about this private matter? These words were lived and written more than 2,000 years ago, yet they reverberate throughout the news, social media, in every corner of today’s life.


After all, if it’s my choice, no one can tell me what to do. Or if it’s between two consenting adults, what’s the harm? What could be so wrong with something that feels so right?


Today, we’re forced to accept any and all feelings that anyone has. Since there’s no right, then nothing can be wrong. There’s no code or list of things that we can agree on that define right or wrong, what’s acceptable behavior. Nothing that makes for a cooperative, positive, and flourishing environment for people to live, develop, and grow in.


We can sometimes agree how to best grow flowers and vegetables. But even with this seemingly simple and direct question, there are LOTS of differences, and some of them not friendly to one another.


We once attended the monthly meeting of the Baltimore African Violet Society (as you can see from the internet link[1], this is a real thing.) We were definitely newbies and just wanted to get some basic information to get started with. Mary Ann’s mom had been growing African Violets for some time, so she came with some background, but I didn’t have a clue. I think I might have been able to spell it, but that was it.


As we arrived, we were immediate surrounded and nicely “pounced on” as they saw a new member potential, which was rarer than a Saintpaulia pusilla. They were very friendly, but I definitely got the sense that I was viewed as potential “fresh meat” to be consumed.


We took some seats towards the back as the meeting got underway. After dispensing with some organizational administrative items, we got to the meat of the agenda – the guest speaker who was going to talk about care and feeding of African Violets. The speaker was greeted with polite applause before starting with an overview of different feeding approaches and techniques. That’s when it started.


There was a definite parting of the ways about what to feed African Violets. There were two basic camps: liquid chemicals vs. dry chemicals. There was a further division: whether to just pour the nutrients from the top or to “wick” them up from the bottom. Both sides made reasonable arguments, pros and cons, but you could see that they were holding back their contempt for the other.


Just as I thought we had dodged a bullet, one person stood up and said that everyone was an idiot because all really knowledgeable African Violet people knew that homemade fish emulsion was far and away the best thing to feed their plants.


As the meeting erupted into a yelling match, I quietly squeezed Mary Ann’s hand and said, “It’s getting a little bit weird in here. Let’s go.” We slipped out quietly, and wisely stopped from giving anyone our contact information


If we can’t agree on how to raise and care for a plant, what hope do we have for agreeing on what’s right and wrong? We can’t agree because we all want what’s best for us. Anyone beyond that is an afterthought.


We really don’t want equality, we want superiority. We don’t want to be treated the same, we want to be treated better. But God has a remedy for us. As the song says,


There's no first in line at the foot of the Cross[2]


When Jesus died for us, he dies for all our selfishness. All our self-centeredness. And what is at the root of our selfishness? It’s you and me. We lift ourselves up and worship ourselves.


And we don’t have the will, power, or resources to change. We are helpless, hopeless, chained to the anchor of ourselves. Destined to sink under the weight of own pride and selfishness.


And the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated, dying for us while we were still caught up with ourselves, certainly is more kind and gracious than we deserve. God could have nursed a grudge towards us. But he didn’t. How can we resist and refuse this kind of loving compassion and forgiveness?

[1] https://www.baltimoreafricanvioletclub.org/ [2] Image Of God, songwriters: Christopher Stevens / Bryan Fowler / Darren Mulligan, © Curb Dayspring Music

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