Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Beatitudes, a guide for life

This is a journal entry from my Bible study. I facilitated a study on the Beatitudes last fall. I have altered it only enough to remove personal information about others in my group and make any quotes make sense.

This week we take a look at hungering and thirsting for God and how to satisfy these longings. It's interesting that Jesus would use something so profound as true hunger and thirst to describe our relationship with Him and with God. Perhaps this is another opportunity for us to think about the life and times of Jesus? He walked in a period of time on this earth in which most people lived a step away from true hunger and thirst--if they weren't there already. Using an example that his followers were familiar with hit home. We have to read and ponder more carefully. What are we desperate about in the 21st century? What hungers and thirsts lie in our paths? What are we starving from?
The authors of Companions in Christ: The Way of Blessedness (Leader's
define righteousness as ordering our lives rightly with God at
center. True righteousness is an awareness of three things:
1. the quality
of relationship with God for which we hunger and thirst
2. the kind of world
for which we yearn
3. the kind of life we truly desire to live
The end goal of the Beatitudes could be described as a reorientation of our focus on what it means to be in relationship with God. In these verses (Matthew chapter 5) we are asked to redefine the words: righteousness, hunger, thirst, longing, justice, humbleness, even eating and drinking. How do we connect the dots between these words? I find these words intersecting to form triangles. When we follow the triangle of listening, praying, and ordering our lives rightly, we overflow with the spirit and are ready to live out our lives accordingly. Then there is the triangle of the Lord's prayer: Father bring your kingdom to earth, let us do your will here, and give us the manna we need to do it both literally and spiritually (also another triangle--daily bread, forgiveness, delivery from temptation and sin).

Now that I've seen triangles, everywhere, here is the challenge:
Instead of lamenting the kind of world in which we live, let us focus on the world we want live in. What can we do on an individual level, on a daily basis, that will keep our pyramid (triangle) upright and in line with the kingdom? Think of specifics, personal practices, prayers, how you spend your free time, how you spend your extra income, the commitments you make, the company you keep. Perhaps together we can come up with a communal "rule of life" that will help us ponder more deeply how to make a personal "rule of life". Whether or not you define yourself or your journey as "Christian" doesn't matter to me as much as doing right by others.

I am on the quest with you. I am truly terrified, interested, humbled, uplifted, paralyzed, and so hungry and thirsty on this journey. It is only through His peace and His grace that I keep going rightly or wrongly as ably as I can. Wishing you peace on your spiritual journey wherever it takes you, however you travel, and whatever end purpose you think you will find.

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