The clarity of who gets what.It's not just people who need to do this...it's organizations too. It's Christmas time, which means church mailers, most which will proclaim that their church is biggest, best or first at something or other. My friend says these are the equivelent of shouting "My pastor can beat up your pastor!".
The poor and the persecuted get the Kingdom. The mourning get comfort. The merciful get mercy. So much of our faith walk is just that....feeling along with our little white canes, hoping that's the curb we've found and not a railroad track. Matthew 5, 6 & 7 are real signs with real directions. Those verses are the closest thing to spiritual if/thans that you'll find anywhere in scripture. They're good for pointy headed binary types who want a cost/benefit analysis.
My admiration for the people who I see walking these out.
They're rare and refreshing with how radically they go against the flow. They don't just stand out...they make serious progress up stream, over boulders and up torrential waterfalls. They are that revolutionary. I hear a lot of goofy talk about how Jesus wasn't a modernist - inferring that Jesus was the first both/and postmodern. Hear this: Jesus was a pre-modern. His teaching will set both the establishment and the new young voices on their repective cans with it's counter-intuitive approach. When you see this sermon being lived out, you see how starkly it contrasts with everyone, no matter their age or affiliation.
My own daily struggle
I study these values because I'm not good at them. Were there biblical chapters on how to be critical or sarcastic, I could probably afford to skip them. Not these. The great part is that even though I'm pretty lousy at these, I'm better than I was....and the only way I get sharp is to keep close to the grindstone. I hate the sparks, but I hate dullness even more.
The amazing thing is that if we got half-good at the beatitudes...not even mastered them, just made an honest attempt and got a little bit of traction...our churches would turn upside down, our marriages would smooth out, and we'd suddenly be scheduling new converts classes six months out as people would clamor to get into whatever is happening to the group.
Blessings are never tied to slickness or even relevance, although I'm a proponent of both if you can pull it off and look natural. Access to the Kingdom is always tied somehow to the poor and persecuted. I'm not sure what the advertising campaign looks like for that. I suppose it doesn't do much good to advertise it. People either buy it or they don't.
All that to say I confess to trying to live out this message. I just pray that now that I've confessed, I'll be convicted as charged. And yes, the pun is always intended.