This summer we’ll be neck deep in Jesus’ sermon on the mount, and more specifically, the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-10.
Unfortunately the Beatitudes have often been seen as lofty ideals or necessary Christian discomforts. Instead, we ought to accept them as gifts that are vital components of God’s community and kingdom. These are street level gifts that blossom, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “in the streets and on the job, lived in the bedrooms and kitchens, lived through cancer and divorce, lived with children and marriage.” From there, the spin-off of each gift is its corresponding challenge. The pairs are inextricably tied – healed and healer, disrupted and disruptor, served and servant. In a domino like effect, we re-gift the gift we’ve been given. As disciples, we become specialists. Our weakness becomes our strength, and depending on season and circumstance, we are summoned to lead via our gifts and challenges. Understood in this way the Beatitudes become descriptive rather than prescriptive. Jesus isn’t delivering a ‘to-do’ list – it’s a ‘to-be’ list! And when all goes as He’s planned, then it is the church (as a whole – gifts and challenges in concert) that becomes the front runner in overthrowing the violence that threatens lives and souls.
May we see our world as God does, and may we understand our challenges as gifts.
“The heart of the Sermon on the Mount is the conviction that the cross and not the sword, suffering and not brute power determines the meaning of history. The key to the obedience of God’s people is not their effectiveness but their patience. The triumph of the right is assured not by the might that comes to the aid of the right, which is of course the justification of the use of violence and other kinds of power in every human conflict. The triumph of the right, although it is assured, is sure because of the power of the resurrection and not because of any calculation of causes and effects, nor because of the inherently greater strength of the good guys. The relationship between the obedience of God’s people and triumph of God’s cause is not a relationship between cause and effect but one of cross and resurrection.” (John Howard Yoder)