Written by C.T. Giles
He called me a doinkety-doink.
“You think about that when you get up in the morning! You’re a doinkety-doink, you’re nothing but a doinkety-doink and you’ll always be a doinkety-doink!”
Even the mere activity of writing those words down gets my dander up all over again. And those aren’t even his actual words. But the censors here wouldn’t let me get away with what he really said to me. You understand.
God bless. How badly I wanted to throttle the guy. At least a part of me did. Looking back, it’s difficult to measure how much of me felt pity for his soul versus how much of me took offense over my own. It’s enough to say that it was a thoroughly intense struggle to walk away from that would-be altercation. A couple of well placed bonks would set the doinkety record straight for good.
Just to be clear, I am no pacifist. A peacemaker, yes, whenever possible, which, truth be told, is most of the time. But I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to straighten out a bad guy either. However, this particular life-winner never posed a real threat to me, or anyone else for that matter. It was up to me whether the situation would turn combative. All that I had to do was move and then watch him regret it. Conscience is a persnickety thing.
How the deuce could Jesus have the audacity to say that those who dole out mercy are, of all things, happy? That if you would find yourself being merciful, then you would also find yourself living the good life? In this busted world of ours, where do we get to observe that?
Let’s be honest. If we are kidding ourselves about the Kingdom, then all of this talk about mercy and the rest is a tremendous waste of a lifespan. If there is no such thing as eternity, a soul, and a good God to order it all, then we have consigned ourselves over to a beautiful lie, but a lie nonetheless. If we have deceived ourselves for the sake of some peace of mind, because the darkness of reality is too harsh, then we may as well sign our name upon the bill of goods now. “Sincerely, Doinkety-Doink.”
Only in an eternal Kingdom ordered by a resurrected Master of Time & Space could any of this high-falutin’ language ever be true. Happy are the merciful?! Isn’t that the opposite of what the natural order demonstrates to us?
Indeed. If the sprawl of Christendom is a ruse, then the likes of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan were the ones who really lived the good life. Conquer all you can. Spread your seed as far as you can. Let your name be renown for as long as you can. Anything else is a cheap imitation or helpless resignation.
However, the Kingdom isn’t just about doing the right things here so that we can cash in on the sweet life in some future ethereal state. In fact, it isn’t about that at all. Many of us have been enculturated to think about the Christian life as if we have been stuck with a soul-sucking job, but if we just hold out until retirement, then the pension will be pretty sweet. No wonder most churches struggle to get their parishioners enthusiastic about any of it.
So, to be very clear, the Kingdom life has nothing whatsoever to do with Heaven. Okay, that’s a bit overstated. But only a bit. The kind of life that Jesus offers us is meant to envelop us here, right where we are, in the very mundane and tedious existence we find ourselves in this very instant. What He has always wanted with us is friendship, and that right soon.
Which brings us to the point that mercy is simply one part of the package in the kind of life that He would have for us today, one in which we would find ourselves incomprehensibly fulfilled, all the way through, from bones to soul. Once we have had our imaginations renewed by His way of seeing God, the world, and the soul, then we could become the kinds of people that are free from the condemnation of others. If I were fully formed in this Way, there would be no struggle in walking away from a doinking imbecile. In the frame of reference that Jesus offers, I would always have before me the truth of who I am, Whose I am, where I am, and why I am. Whence and wherefore cover most of the ground of our being. Suffice it to say that I’m still a work in progress.
Remember too that Jesus illustrates it the other way for us, a life without mercy, in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. We have one servant in debt for what amounts to a nation’s GDP. The master lets him off the hook, out of pity. Then this much-relieved escapee goes out and throttles a friend of his for being 90 days in arrears with missed payments. Is that a happy individual, a fully formed soul? Is he living the good life?
In spite of all the mass-murdering and raping that the Khan was able to accomplish, he still died. Even in life, his sons contended with one another for their father’s power of succession. How much misery would that portend? I can imagine little joy in the prospect of peering into the future and seeing the demise of all I had built.
Alexander the Great had to reckon with his own finitude. His men mutinied against him. Sure, it was a soft-handed mutiny. Nevertheless, there was a limit to his effective will. Do we think he enjoyed that experience?
Looking to our canon, we see Jonah exhibit the misery of being merciless. It wasn’t as if God simply looked the other way with Nineveh. They changed. Nevertheless, Jonah wished wrath upon them regardless and only he would suffer for it.
There’s another fascinating story in 2 Kings chapter 3, wherein we see Elishah walk down from his temper. The prophet wants nothing to do with the king of Israel, but he relents only because of his regard for the king of Judah. So, he calls for a musician. When the minstrel plays, God’s hand comes upon Elishah and then prophecy unfolds. Mercy reconnected the prophet to Yahweh.
Only in the Kingdom might we find ourselves immersed in the kind of economy wherein mercy is the gold standard. Show me a merciless individual and I will show you the man who hates himself. It is no strength to be ruthless; it is a delusion. Ours is an ordering of things that provides happiness not only in the world to come, but first, even now, in the world that is already.
We must not find ourselves as the people that might confuse a day’s wage with a life savings. In this regard, we might discover mercy as something of a virtue, in that it is something that we do. However, we shouldn’t miss the underlying truth, that mercy is simply woven into the fabric of existence. We would do well to practice it simply because we already find ourselves in the midst of it. This is an essential part of the human condition restored. To be merciful is to be connected to reality. The grip of mercy is where we find ourselves, whether we would admit it or not.
Even now, I’m practicing all of this for the next time somebody calls me a doinkety-doink. God bless him.
Previous Article: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger & Thirst For Righteousness
Chad Giles peaked too early in life. He graduated high school in the Florida panhandle with an International Baccalaureates diploma. Rather than make the sensible decision of attending any Florida state school for free, he chose to take on mounds of debt by attending Liberty University. And then he ceased his studies when he was all but 12 credit hours away from a B.A. in Religion. Life happens, as do kids in marriage. He has spent the last 12 years as a slate roofer in Lynchburg, VA, restoring the signature Victorian homes of the area according to the historically accurate specifications of a dying trade. He and his wife Adena have been married for 12 years; they have 6 children and 3 dogs; and they are actively restoring one of these Victorian homes for themselves – yet another decision of dubious wisdom.
Please call him Wailer. He really does prefer it. If you ever have the chance to meet up he might tell you the story… but there are some pre-requisites. He won’t tell you those until you meet, either.