1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Confession time: I’ve never really gotten the Beatitudes. I mean, I understand them, but I don’t think I’ve really strived to live them. Much on the contrary, I’ve used the more to help myself feel better in bad times. For example, when I was mourning, I thought “‘Blessed are those who mourn’, so this isn’t totally a bad thing.” I did NOT think “‘Blessed are those who mourn.’ I should mourn more in my regular life!
Right now I am reading through Dr. Teresa Whitehurst’s How Would Jesus Raise a Child, and her chapter on the Beatitudes is making me think. She says
If you want to become more like Jesus as a person and a parent, the Beatitudes are a wise and easy place to begin.
So then she gives some examples of the way Jesus lived the Beatitudes and the way that the world lives. She says, for example, that Jesus tells us that when you’re gentle (meek), not harsh with others, you will inherit the earth. The world’s view is “Show ‘em who’s boss. You gotta be cruel to be kind.”, etc.
OK, so I understand what she’s saying there. Like I said, I don’t think I’ve done much striving to live them, but I get her point. I’ve always thought more about the Love verses or the fruits of the Spirit, etc.
Then she starts talking about exactly the same thing as Charlotte Mason. I discussed it in my Trains of Thought entry. She says that humans have a hard time with change and are actually immune to it. The same thing CM said! Go figure
…it short-circuits our goals. We want to lose weight, but can’t seem to overcome our immunity to change in the area of eating habits. We want to be more patient with our toddler but our “immune system” kicks in, preventing us from trying a new, calmer method for handling fussiness.
So now I’ve read this twice in two weeks. Maybe God is trying to tell me something She goes on to give a great example
When I was getting used to my laptop, it took me several days to unlearn the placement of the keys on my familiar old desktop computer. Some moves were so ingrained that I actually had to cover certain keys with tape so as not to hit them accidentally, erasing my work each time! So it goes with the challenging internal changes for which Jesus promised blessings and rewards in the Beatitudes. They will require that we “tape over” certain habitual ways of thinking and behavior so that we can begin to learn and use what Jesus taught. It may feel awkward at first, but if you inhibit your usual ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, eventually you will find that Jesus’ teachings are not impossible to incorporate in your life after all.
I like the way that she built on the same ideas as CM. I like her example. I’ve experienced the same thing with a new keyboard, and I’ve also experienced that same difficulty when trying to change a bad habit. The fact is that you get used to the new way of life if you just stick with it.
This also reminded me of when I first bought my new glasses. My dh is going through the same thing right now, so I can really empathize. I have progressive lenses. I have the strongest prescription at the bottom for reading, a moderate prescription for mid-distance (like the computer), and hardly any prescription at all for distance. For the first week or two, I felt terrible with these glasses. I kept getting dizzy. I was getting stabbing pains in my brain. It seemed bad. Then one day I could see and my brain had figured out which part of the glasses to look through for different activities. Now I can’t live without them!
I think I need to apply some of these same principles in my life.
So the last point that I wanted to discuss is her interpretation of Matthew 5:48 (“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. This is a tough verse. We know we can’t be perfect. That’s why we need God. So what gives?
I used to worry about this instruction. Then, after further study, I realized that Jesus didn’t say, “So be as perfect as God.” To say this would be to imply that we are on equal footing with God, with equal powers of perfection. Rather, what Jesus was urging his listeners to do was to take his teachings seriously and strive towards the ideal that God represents.
I’m off to digest this some more. I’m sure I’ll write about it again!