Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
It's cool to be a loser
by Erik Momsen
We do not know what he looks like, nor do we know much about the first 30 years of his life. What we do know is his teachings have literally turned the world up-side-down. Jesus of Nazareth is the most disturbing figure ever to have walked this earth. One cannot truly follow him and not have one’s life 'messed up'. This is because “His ways are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts”. The ways of the kingdom of heaven are not the ways of the kingdom of the earth.
Very early in the first gospel we are confronted by the “Sermon on the Mount”. Philip Yancey says, “If I fail to understand this teaching, I fail to understand Him”. Matthew chapters 5 to 7 contain a complete philosophy of life. It is the way the followers of Jesus should think and act. The standards are impossibly high and call for incredible and complete sacrifice.
Philip Yancey, while preparing for his class on the Beatitudes, found himself switching between the VCR, where he was watching excerpts from Jesus movies, to CNN’s coverage of the Gulf war. General Norman Schwartskopf was describing the completion of the successful “100 hour” ground campaign in which the Iraqi forces were routed. Yancey was struck by the irony of watching the two types of material and then realized that Norman was really expounding the Beatitudes in reverse. Blessed are the strong, the triumphant, those rich enough to buy smart bombs.
Jesus, faced with a predominantly Jewish crowd, said things like, “Turn the other cheek and carry a soldiers’ pack an extra mile”. The Jews wanted General Schwartskopf but they got Jesus, who did nothing about the Romans.
The word translated Blessed would probably better be rendered, “You lucky thing”. You are lucky if you are poor, mourning, meek, hungry, merciful, pure, peacemakers and persecuted. Nobody wants to hear this message, not even Christians.
Why did Jesus say this and what do these promises of Jesus mean?
Are they just comforting words to those who happen to be poor, miserable, mourning and defeated? Are they genuine promises made by Jesus and central to the kingdom? Perhaps Jesus is the one person, having come from the other side - heaven - who could make the promise that he could make up for anything that went wrong in this life. He could reward the poor and broken hearted. But future hope is not popular today. We even say, “What good is pie in the sky when you die”. In reality, many generations and even nations have been kept going by hope. For the slaves of the American South, convicts in the Soviet Gulag and Christians in Roman cages, the hope of future glory was strong enough to keep them going.
The beatitudes not only hold promise for the future but also a way for today.
They tell us how to succeed in the kingdom of heaven as opposed to the kingdom of earth. The kingdom of earth lives by the rules of “survival of the fittest”. A bumper sticker reads, “Those who die with the most toys wins”. God however, through his son Jesus, tells us that he thinks little of this world's values. God seems to prefer the poor and those who mourn than the rich and happy. The stories in the Gospels are about blind beggars, prostitutes, tax collectors with terrible guilt, a widow who gave her last at the temple, a woman with five failed marriages, an adulteress, and lepers.
The difference between the rich, talented and beautiful and the poor, untalented and plain is that the former can easily rely on their own ability. The poor do not necessarily have purer hearts or better motives but they know that they have to rely on others and especially on God.
Jesus also shows us success in the Kingdom of heaven has the greatest truth and application in this life.
We know and have heard that the rich and famous are seldom the happy individuals they attempt to portray. True servants by contrast are a blessing to be with. They radiate peace, grace and acceptance of others while the Stars are racket by self-importance and self doubt. Jesus promised that those who lose their lives for his sake would find them.
Heaven’s values are not earth's.
Much of earth's values probably means little of Heaven's
Only those who are empty can be filled with God.
Date Added: 2008-12-02
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