“If a man who was merely a man said the sort of things Jesus said, he would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.”
A few weeks ago, I felt drawn to the Gospels for the first time in a long time. Since then, I have been reading through them. I’ve always loved the Beatitudes, but recently, I’ve been especially focused on the goodness of Jesus’ words here.
The Bible says Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount once he saw his ministry really beginning to grow. He was drawing large groups by this time and his disciples had proven they were in for the long haul. So as the people crowded in, Jesus gave a talk on what it really means to live a blessed life.
Maybe you’re new to my blog or new to Christianity. Maybe they’ve never made any sense to you, either. But after spending time with them, I think I get it better than I did. Here’s my version of the Beatitudes:
Are you spiritually bankrupt? In dire need of religious recovery? Have you come to the end of all your answers? Good for you! No more solving your own problems. Now it’s God’s turn to intervene. You’re finally ready to embrace the insanity of grace.
Are you heartbroken? Peace to you. God’s arms are open wide. Open your eyes to the goodness and beauty available even in the hard days.
Has life humbled you? Good. The big-headed will have a hard time entering Heaven’s gates.
Are you finished trying to be religious, and are now seeking righteousness? Get ready for God to pour out His spirit on you. He’s not looking for sanitized lives, but He will open the dam and wash over those who have given up on self-righteousness.
Do you walk with messy grace? Now you’re getting somewhere! When life smacks you down, messy grace will get in the dirt with you.
If your heart is driven by God’s principles of love and mercy, you’ll find the extraordinary God in countless ordinary moments of daily living. When you take your eyes off of performance-based Christianity and do your best to live like Jesus, you’ll begin to live wholeheartedly.
Want to be called “God’s child”? Make peace your goal. No more keeping up appearances for the sake of being seen. Instead, live with a heart of reconciliation. Be willing to have meaningful dialogue with those who disagree with you. Be led by God’s perfect love.
Does your version of the Christian life feel like Hell on Earth because of well-meaning religious people, or because you’re being berated by non-believers? Hold on. God is near.
Does your name constantly cycle through the rumor mill? Are people talking trash and trying to ruin your reputation? Have lies and slander got you feeling discouraged, depressed, and defeated? Don’t give up. God’s children have been picked on, put down, and persecuted since the beginning. Life is sometimes very hard, but don’t give up.
Just when we think we’ve got the Blessed Life figured out, Jesus calls us to look at it through the lens of messy grace.
In this brief speech, Jesus flung the gates of the Kingdom open wide and said “Come to me, spiritual misfits! Come to me beggars, losers, and sinners! Bring your discontentment, your disillusionment, and your discouragement. Come to me with your anger and your drinking problem. Come to me with your PTSD and your church hurts. Bring me your spiritual abuse and your shame and soak up every single drop of grace I pour out. I have more than enough.”