I began this Lenten journal on Ash Wednesday with what seemed like the bitter end: Judas betrayal of Jesus. The reality of his story is a reminder of the beginning he missed. Repentance is a “who” to repent to instead of a “what” to repent of. Isn’t that just what Easter is all about? Out of the Ashes of what we “were,” we are being Blessed…
• Blessed By knowing it’s not our spirit that sustains us. Self has Fallen Through the Cracks of life and in the process caught a glimpse of a promised new kingdom of heaven.
• Blessed By realizing that in the Unfamiliar Reality of the emotions of mourning God is replacing the need to cope in unbearable circumstances with the release of comfort.
• Blessed By an undeserved and unearned inheritance and an eternity to explore and understand what submissive, yielding and obedient is. Meek is the mystery of God moving us into position to fulfill his plans as we learn the difference between Be-ing vs Choosing.
• Blessed By Jesus using something as basic and daily as our body’s craveing for nourishment to remind us there’s Another Kind of Life to crave: long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need – a life of righteousness.
• Blessed By the mercy of Jesus and The Perfected Golden Rule: “Do unto others…as I have done unto you.”
• Blessed By the power God and the life of Jesus to create pure hearts by chiseling away stony pieces to bring us One Pebble Closer to being able to see God.
• Blessed By peacemakers who go Beyond Just Fixing to create opportunity for those in conflict to explore the reality of truth as God means it to be: a path to unity not separation.
• Blessed By a new perspective on Jesus words and the fullness of one Greek word. What once seemed focused on “persecuted” now includes “blessed because they “pursue” righteousness.” In Each Case theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It’s not over yet!
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Recognizing that people could be persecuted because they pursue righteousness is hard to bring to a daily level for me. I need some definition.
• pur·sue seems pretty positive – to follow (someone or something)…: follow, run after, chase…
• per·se·cute seems pretty negative – to subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of…religious beliefs; oppress, abuse, victimize…torment, torture; martyr…
Those are dictionary definitions but here’s a third word I checked too. The surprise for me was that the Greek word the Bible translates as persecuted [#1377 diṓkō] included both those first two words. Strong’s Greek Concordance says:
• used positively (“earnestly pursue”)
• used negatively(“zealously persecute, hunt down”).
• In each case, 1377 (diṓkō) means “pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend).”
It was that word diṓkō and that last point, that brought the fullness of Jesus words into perspective for me. Life is both positive and negative.
…When the negative side is circumstances, events and people that “pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend)” and persecute you…or
…When the positive side is that you continue to “pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend)” righteousness.
There is the promised blessing In Each Case – the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Wanting everything to be fixed is not the same as being a peacemaker. I wish that were all it took.
Jesus is acknowledging there are some of his children who are gifted Beyond Just Fixing. They are peacemakers. They are able to create a unique connection between God and a world where separating one person’s truth from another’s has become the essence of conflict.
The peacemaker’s gift is not the ability to provide therapy, preaching or give good advice. They are able to create an opportunity for those in conflict to explore the reality of truth as God means it to be: a path to unity not separation.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Mer·cy – noun
• compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
• synonyms: leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance, quarter, humanity.
This be-attitude made me think first of the Golden rule. Then it dawned on me the Golden rule is more about personally controlling behavior. Do unto others…as you would have them do unto you. Certainly a good thing to practice.
The order of this blessing for these people of mercy is about behavior controlled by The Perfected Golden Rule. It has become “Do unto others…what has been done unto you.”
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
It’s a fact of be-ing that food and water are real physical needs of life the body craves. Our bodies make us very aware of those needs. It was that word “craves” that connected my mind to this blessing this morning. It means to long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need.
This is Jesus at his best using something as basic and daily as hunger and thirst as images to remind us there’s Another Kind of Life to long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need – a life of righteousness.
The blessing is two-fold: to crave and to be filled.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
An interesting word play occurred to me this morning. Are these Be-Attitudes? All Jesus’ blessings are about “Be-ing vs Choosing.” Word play is not an indication of lack of seriousness especially when it comes to the Word of God. Quite the contrary, it’s an involved mind challenge to consider a meaning that may be deeper than the mere letters that form this known word – meek.
• Meek – adjective: quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.
• Synonyms: submissive, yielding, obedient, compliant, tame, biddable, tractable, acquiescent, humble, deferential, timid, unprotesting, unresisting…
The inheritance of land has always been a symbol of security…and power. Way back at the beginning God saw land as a promise and a blessing for his people as he moved them into position to fulfill his plans to make them his heirs on earth.
That’s proved to be tough to work out because “choosing” has become the focus rather than be-ing. That change in focus has resulted in the competition, wars, greed and deceit that plague our world. Jesus says be-ing meek is the answer to the mystery of inheriting this blessing. That’s a mind challenge!
The Second Beatitude
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Mourning exposes a depth of emotions associated with loss that are an Unfamiliar Reality to us. Loss forces us to experience those emotions and at same time admit our coping skills will not comfort us.
This is the reality that Jesus simple words address: mourning releases us from our need to cope with those unbearable circumstances so we are ready for the blessing of comfort.
Matthew 5:3 The First Beatitude
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You’ve probably heard expressions like “high spirited or free spirited. Those expressions describe people whom God has chosen to give personalities that are more demonstrative, more confident of their place in life and are therefore more noticeable.
I doubt you’ve ever even noticed anyone you’d call “poor in spirit.” Maybe that’s why God has chosen this apparently very small group to be His number one focus. He noticed them precisely because their life is not about depending on their own spirit at all. Somehow they’ve Fallen Through the Cracks of praise and attention in our world but they’ve caught a glimpse of a different kingdom and another Spirit that sustains them.