All you have to do is follow…..
I want you to breathe, press the play button below, and read this in peace.
I haven’t written a blog post in quite a while, quite frankly because much of what constitutes public discussion these days. The President, impeachment, China, partisanship, and the economy seem stuck in a binary equation which doesn’t lend itself to much thoughtful discourse. I’m right, you’re wrong or some equally dull version.
As we prepare to spend more time with our friends and family, I thought it worthwhile to revisit the real reason for the season and ask that we reflect on the revolutionary nature of the gospel in the Sermon on the Mount. Now, before you stop reading, take a moment to slow down, stay open, and eliminate the mental filters we all construct which tell us, “Oh, I already knew that, so I don’t need to read anymore.” I know I am guilty of that very thing on a routine basis when I fail to stay open, fail to listen and ultimately fail to grow.
It seems that the lesson here would do wonders for each of us if we could apply it to our own hearts and actions as we shape our mental narrative going into what will be, unquestionably, one of the most toxic political environments in modern American politics – the 2020 Presidential election cycle.
So, bear with me and read the verses below from the book of Matthew and ask yourself:
- How are the virtues Christ speaks to here reflected in my own life?
- How, if I absorbed these more fully, might I enjoy a better 2020 or at the very least a better conversation with that friend, relative or co-workers opinions to whom I struggle to respond?
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets, who were before you.
John MacArthur in his commentary on Mathew Chapters 1-7 wrote the following;
“Of all the beatitudes, this last one seems the most contrary to human thinking and experience. The world does not associate happiness with humility, mourning over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, or peacemaking holiness. Even less does it associate happiness with persecution.”
MacArthur goes on to write, “Some years ago a popular national magazine took a survey to determine the things that make people happy. According to the responses they received, happy people enjoy other people but are not self-sacrificing; they refuse to participate in any negative feelings or emotions; and they have a sense of accomplishment based on their own self-sufficiency.”
“The person described by those principles is completely contrary to the kind of person the Lord says will be authentically happy. Jesus says a blessed person is not one who is self-sufficient but one who recognizes his own emptiness and need, who comes to God as a beggar, knowing he has not resources in himself. He is not confident in his own ability but is very much aware of his own inability. Such a person, Jesus says, is not at all positive about himself but mourns over his own sinfulness and isolation from a holy God. To be genuinely content, a person must not be self-serving but self-sacrificing. He must be gentle, merciful, pure in heart, yearn for righteousness, and seek to make peace on God’s terms – even if those attitudes cause him to suffer.”
So as we celebrate the birth of Christ and launch ourselves into the next decade perhaps we should consider what it means to be genuinely happy. Let’s contemplate the words in Matthew, reflect on our national dialogue, and ask ourselves: what can I do to make life better for others? How can I be a blessing to my friends, relatives and colleagues? And finally, perhaps we should all reflect on the nature of man as described by Dr. Martin Luther King in “Paul’s letter to the Church in America written in 1956;
“You must come to see that it is possible for a man to be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. He may be generous in order to feed his ego and pious in order to feed his pride. Man has the tragic capacity to relegate a heightening virtue to a tragic vice. Without love benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.”
It is my hope and prayer that everyone who reads this blog enjoy a grateful holiday season. Be strong, stay open, stay in relationship, act and live a life of faith, be joyful, be a deep source of love and empathy to those around you; friend and enemy alike.
Let’s question our own judgements with a smile of deep humility knowing we are often wrong. Persevere through it all and smile.
Nobody’s got it better than you. God is in charge – He has a plan. Follow his advice and forgive yourself and others when we all come up massively short.
He already has.