Posts Tagged ‘Beatitudes

30
Oct
08

Full meal deal according to Jesus

The other day my wife and I were in downtown Toronto. We did a fair bit of walking, visiting old haunts from when we used to study and work downtown. By the evening meal we had developed a healthy appetite. The food tasted exceptional. When we were done our hunger had been sated, we were full to satisfaction.

Jesus makes use of that common experience when he says,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Mt 5:6)

The kingdom appetite that Jesus is promoting runs counter to society’s drives of power, prestige, possessions and passion. Jesus is advocating that a disciple hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is, that we would have a desire for right living. This isn’t right living as we or others might define it, but rather right living as God would define it.

We hunger and thirst to be in right relationship with God, to be cleansed of our sins and to be in close fellowship with him.  We hunger and thirst to be in right relationship with others, to conduct ourselves in our dealings with others in a way that pleases God.  Our desire is for God’s will to be done in community, for justice and goodness to prevail.

Back to our dinner in Toronto, the next morning I was hungry again. That is how it goes; being satisfied by a meal only lasts a season.  For now that is also the way it is with our pursuit of righteousness. Our private or communal encounters with a righteous God satisfy for a season.  We need to allow those encounters to encourage us to again and again hunger and thirst for righteousness.

There will come the day, at the end of time, when what remains is righteousness. At that time our satisfaction will be complete and unending.

29
Sep
08

Weight vs. wait

Do you know of someone whose primary modus operandi is “Looking out for number one”?  They assert themselves, they twist the truth, they withhold information, they do whatever they feel is necessary to protect their self interests.

Jesus calls us to something radically different than that.  This is what he said to his first followers,

Mt 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Someone who is meek does not throw his weight around to protect or promote his cause.  Rather there is a humble and gentle attitude that has been born out of confession and contrition.  The meek have come to understand that they are sinners whose future wellbeing is dependent on God’s grace not on human conniving and striving. That understanding leads to patience in dealing with others and confidence that God will come through.

The Psalmist captures it well in Ps 37:

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

The promised blessing associated with the meek is inheriting the earth.  This is not so much a physical tract of land, but rather a promise of provision and security.  A disciple will receive installments on this inheritance here and now as God, who knows what he needs, provides for him.  The fulfillment of this will come when believers inhabit the new heaven and the new earth.

22
Sep
08

Crying over the wrong things in life

Besides peeling onions, the price of gas and your favourite sports team losing in the playoffs, does anything bring tears to your eyes?

Sin should.  That is the point Jesus is making when he says,

Mt 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

The kind of mourning that he is talking about is fundamentally a sorrowing over sin.  It is what the Psalmist speaks about when he writes:

Ps 119:136 “My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law”

It means moving beyond confessing that we are sinners and that we can’t fix our sin, to feeling sincere remorse and sorrow because that is our state. And not just our personal state, but the state of others and the state of our world.

This one caught my attention. I need to grow here. My heart is not broken over sin the way it should. That came home to me recently as I followed the story of seven year old girl that died while in the care of her guardian. My emotional response to the details of that story were shock, anger and disgust, but mourning over sin and the sinfulness that gave rise to this tragedy was not a response of mine. When it comes to my own sin again my response is muted. Too often I just feel regret or frustration, but I do not mourn as I ought.

In the day of Jesus, the nation of Israel was awaiting one who would come and deliver them from the bondage of sin, who would bring comfort to those that mourn (see Isa 61:1-3).  Simeon, who blessed the infant Jesus in the temple court, recognized that Jesus was that one, the consolation of Israel (Lk 2:25).  Paul in his letter to the Corinthians speaks of how believers will through Christ share abundantly in comfort.

That is the promised blessing for those who mourn, that we will know God’s comfort in the midst of the affliction that we face in this fallen world corrupted and polluted by sin.

15
Sep
08

How poor are you?

Poverty is not something many of us (any of us?!) strive for.  But when it comes to character issues poverty takes on a new meaning.

Jesus teaches,”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3)

Being “poor in spirit” means that one recognizes their spiritual bankruptcy before God. They recognize that entrance into God’s kingdom is not earned.

Luke’s Gospel records a parable told by Jesus in which he contrasts two men addressing God in the temple area. The first was a religious type, full of himself and his good deeds. He prayed thanking God that he wasn’t a sinner like other men.

The second was a tax collector, who clearly recognized that before God he had come up short. He wouldn’t even look God-ward, but instead brokenly prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus concludes the parable by declaring that it was the second man that returned home in right relationship with God.

This tax collector is a picture of one who is poor in spirit, humbly acknowledging his sin and his debt and his dependency on God’s mercy to save him. The one who is poor in spirit is blessed by God and will know the reign and rule of God in his life, delivering him from the power of sin.

What do you think, are the guys you know apt to confess that when it comes to their spiritual lives they don’t measure up?




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