Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm finding more and more that as I try to walk out the teachings of Jesus Christ, that His path often seems counter-culture. In fact, at times it can seem downright foolish in a culture that almost seems to worship safety, security, and "looking out for number 1". So much of what Jesus told us to do as His followers is downright scary.
As a mom, I want to impart to my children that they need to follow the ways of Jesus no matter what it costs. And then trust Him. Trust Him that sometimes those sacrifices and illogical steps will lead to unexpected blessings and amazingly positive results because He has a way of just doing that. But to also trust Him that when following Him leads to pain, loss, and even a situation that in no way seems positive, in fact, seems like a failure, that He's in control and He has a plan. His plans and ways are higher than ours. We're not called to always understand, we're just called to trust and obey.
Recently, we had a situation going on that presented us with two options. The person involved could go along with the crowd and worldly advice, or handle the situation like Jesus prescribed. After discussion and reflection, the decision was made to face the conflict with integrity and faithfulness. The situation has not yet turned out with a happy ending. Reconciliation has not been achieved. It left the person attempting to right the situation feeling "stupid". But after talking about it and reviewing what Jesus had to say about relationships, it was decided that they weren't "stupid", they were just being a good friend. And unfortunately, there is no guarantee that being a good friend or doing the right thing won't come with a cost.
After all, look what happened to Jesus...the one who did everything right and was never anything but loving.
Yesterday, we read an article at WRECKED FOR THE ORDINARY that spoke right to this issue. I wanted to share it with you and encourage you to live out the life and love of Jesus, no matter the cost.

Blessed Are the Arrogant?

by Jeff Campbell

Jesus is the light of the world, and His promise is our only hope. But so often, it ends up a dark parody of what it is meant to be. Sometimes, there is this dead thing we have ended up with. We call it Christianity. It is a corpse on a dissection table.

People wiser than I have observed the disconnect between what it was meant to be and what we have turned it into. As a church, we’ll be reading the thoughts on of one of these folks through Vince Antonucci's book I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt. The central premise of the book is just that--following Christ should have been so much more than something to do on Sundays and a list of thou-shalt-nots. (It’s also incredibly funny and authentic.)

As I’ve been working my way through the Beatitudes, I’ve been reminded of this. Scripture puts it this way:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

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 sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Look at the picture of the blessed person that’s painted here: poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peace-making, and persecuted.

And observe that which is promised to this person: the kingdom of heaven (twice), inheriting the earth, being filled, receiving mercy, seeing God, being called a son of God...

Persecuted yet called a son of God; mourning yet filled; poor in spirit yet an inhabitant of the Kingdom of God, and somehow also an inheritor of the Earth; receiving mercy yet persecuted. How could all this work together? How could it all be true at the same time?

It seems like the whole point is this: Jesus promised us up's and down's in this life. He promised that it will be ultimately worth it, but it seems like the litmus test is that every day will not be the same. The barometer will be this: some days are better than others.

The way we act, the way that I fear others might reconstruct Jesus' words based on the fruits that they see in our lives… I fear that they might assume Jesus said something like this:

Blessed are those self-satisfied in their theologies, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who walk around with a big fake smile on their face, for we all know God must be with us if we can fake a smile.

Blessed are the arrogant, they will simply replay all the stuff they got now in the next life.

Blessed are those who are satisfied with systems which benefit only them,God only uses bounty and surplus to grow us.

Blessed are the legalistic, for they get it that God is a traffic cop and they’ve found out all the laws.

Blessed are those who focus on appearing to be pure at heart, for what people see is so much more important than what people are.

Blessed are the winners, for they will be called winners by virtue of God’s decision.

Blessed are those who persecute others in the name of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We make an idol out of ease, the status quo, and fortunate circumstances.

Am I pointing fingers outward? Well, yes. But I’m also pointing them back at me. Am I trying to being provocative? Maybe a bit. But I’m hoping to provoke myself as much as you.

Did it work?

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