Beginning a couple of weeks ago, I found myself inexplicably drawn to Matthew 5, 6 and 7 – that’s Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Well, maybe not so inexplicably.
I’ve been pretty down lately, troubled by the coronavirus, by the election battles, by social unrest, by the hyper-politicization of every little thing, by my own desires – sometimes to fight, sometimes to flee – on social media.
Right out the gate, as Jesus begins to speak, I find myself blessed. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
Also, I see immediately, Jesus calling “blessed” those I empathize with right now – the meek; those who mourn. I also see Jesus calling “blessed” those that I hope to see more of in these times – the peacemakers; the merciful; those that hunger and thirst for righteousness.
So, I’m hooked.
I keep reading, and I keep finding… so many things I’ve known since Sunday School, but that I needed to revisit now, in October 2020.
Now, Jesus could be described by some as apolitical and by a certain definition antisocial. At his foundation, he was simply coming-from and pointing-to a different Kingdom than that in which his audience lived.
A different Kingdom than that in which we live.
And yet his words about turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, storing up treasures in Heaven, removing the plank from your own eye to see clearly the speck in your brother’s eye (Whoa.), good trees bearing good fruit and bad trees bearing bad fruit (Double whoa.)… all of these profound lessons apply where we live, right now, in 2020.
(I must add here… don’t cheat. Don’t just remember you once heard about those lessons. Go back and actually read them.)
Their simplicity makes me think of the principle of Occam’s Razor – that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. And it makes me realize all the times Jesus speaks quite simply and directly about things, yet I work hard to minimize his influence by complicating the issue. “Oh, Jesus was only speaking in a specific context.” “Jesus was only talking about the individual, not society… I mean society, not the individual.” “Jesus was being symbolic. He didn’t actually mean that the way it sounded.”
I try to justify myself and my views, rather than accepting Jesus’ simple, kind instruction.
So, here I am, running my feelings, my thoughts, my ideals, my fear, anger, passion… even, dare I say, my politics… I’m running them back through some very simple filters… And sometimes it’s confirmational. Sometimes, it’s dramatically changing my mind… and it’s all…
… not as scary as I thought it would be.