Red Letters–Fiery Words

Blessed

are those who read Gospel conversations,
divine pronouncements,
and follow the trail of Truth back to the nature of God.

“Greater than the Temple,”
“Lord of the Sabbath,”
His words revealed
Divine Prerogatives
and a set of priorities wholly out of step with the elite.

No Mr.-Rogers-with-a-beard,
Jesus used the sharp edge of sarcasm to slice through hypocrisy,
Scalding words to remedy a lukewarm righteousness.

And reading today, I am both warmed and singed,

rejoicing that my reward is great in heaven,
while knowing full well, in the meantime,
there are
enemies to love,
cloaks and tunics to surrender,
and a radical holiness to be lived in the unseen places,
One Spark,
One Smoldering Offering at a time.

***

Discovering what it means to be “blessed,”

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Blessed Are You

Preparing to teach the Beatitudes, I am trying to live my way into their truth by carrying them around on 3×5 cards and struggling to understand a Kingdom in which you are pronounced “happy” :

  • If you know that you are spiritually bankrupt.
  • If your poverty of soul makes you sad.
  • If you realize that you are not the center of the universe.

This image of need and hungering stops me in my tracks and re-orients my values.  John MacArthur puts it this way:  “Jesus went into the great display window of life and changed all the price tags.”  Could it be that the positions of influence and symbols of power that we covet are not all that valuable after all?

Reading, I see that although The Twelve squandered precious moments of their last days with Jesus squabbling over who should get the corner office, Jesus demonstrated no interest in the trappings of power.

A God who valued power over all else would not choose to identify Himself with a tiny nation of tent-dwellers.

He would not take on the space-and-time limitations of a body and then show up in the midst of an era of oppression, taxation, and poverty.

He would not “see the crowds,” then “sit down and open his mouth,” with the kind of power-bashing, establishment-alienating statements that we read in His Sermon on the Mount. In fact, just reading the Beatitudes can be hazardous, because I’m looking at the Christians I know — and, most of all, I’m looking in the mirror — and I’m realizing that most of us love power and everything that goes with it more than we love dealing with our sin or hungering for more of God.  The economy of my own heart leans toward a set of pronouncements that have nothing to do with Christ’s kingdom.

Maybe that’s true for you as well. . .

faithnfriends

I’m happy and humbled to announce that this is my first post as a regular contributor at Faith ‘n Friends.  I hope that you’ll come on over to read the rest of my words about Jesus’ upside-down kingdom.

While you’re there, be sure to check out some of the other inspiring essays.  You can receive regular updates from this faith-filled community through Facebook and Twitter!


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