What’s Godly?

The New Year and decade are here and in full swing. We all have 2020 vision. So a good item to get clear on is, of course, God.

People use the word Godly in ways that make me more than a little uncomfortable. Examples like, “Well, he’s a Godly man, so he is volunteering,” and “She is a Godly woman and looks after her children well.” Wait what? Is Godly akin to being a good person? If we are good citizens with integrity, are we Godly? What if we are that way, but we don’t believe in God? Can terrific people who live incredibly wonderful lives, and are atheists, be Godly?

All these questions are why the term Godly is uncomfortable for me. It seems to leave the interpretation up to the person saying or hearing it. It also smacks a whole lot of judgment, my least favorite habit we Christians lay claim to.

During a recent holiday, one of my kid’s was pitching a super velocity level 5 tantrum in front of the Biltmore in North Carolina. The Biltmore, as its name implies, is stately and proper. There are red velvet ropes guiding visitors along the tour. Step this way, not that. It is beautiful, but not to a 6 year old who is bored by looking at grownup’s backs in a crowded line.

He was hungry, he was thirsty, he was cold, and I was right there with him. As his max 5 tantrum was in full swing, and I moved him over to the side of the line, a woman walked by me and literally “mm mmm mmmm” shamed me. Proper reverence toward the Biltmore was not being displayed by me or my child, and it was just shameful. As evidenced by her shaming judgment. She was a judgy judger, and as I judged her as one, I wondered why she tried to shame and shush me. It’s 2020. Don’t we know better?

Regardless of her background or religion, I guarantee, that in that moment, I was not even close to Godly. I was raising an entitled brat with my too loose ways. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider her blouse, and yes it was a blouse, with ruffles and buttons up her neck. One might have seen her pearls and rouge, and deemed her Godly. My hair was a tangled mess with at least one piece of gum in it. You could see my son’s superhero underwear atop his paints as he writhed and wriggled free.

It wasn’t okay for my son to accost the tour with his tantrum, but I was struggling and doing my best. Our chaotic mess didn’t make us less Godly than her pearls made her. We were all Godly.

Is Godly a secret term of judgment, used to deem someone’s approval status? Are we stepping in on God’s toes and claiming to be the expert. Like any good researcher, I checked my sources: my inner spirit and the Bible. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” Don’t you just love that answer? Whether we are blouse wearing shushers, or parents doing their messy best, Jesus Christ is in us. It seems like that has to at least count for us all being Godly. What a relief!

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by Amanda Sturner

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A good portion of my life has been sleeping under the stars, climbing mountains, and on the best days, jumping into glacier-fed lakes. On the worst day, my student threw her backpack over and cliff and demanded a helicopter exit from dirty dirt. If you make me laugh until my stomach hurts, we may be friends for a long, long time. read more...

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