stack of bibles by Joe Bustillos

Mt. 5 – Dealing w/ the Beatitudes

Well, here I am again at work, hoping to get out of here early only to be thwarted by an erring Zip disk. Damn. So while I wait for the 250 MB disk to do the “long format” and with Dirty Vegas (“Throwing Shapes”) blaring on my speakers (I love my iPod) I can’t think of anything better to do than to continue the chapters that I began last Friday.

Thirty years ago it was all new and, not being a proficient reader, I read the four gospels four times (each) before moving on to any other books of the bible. But at the same time I vaguely remember that it was a bit of a race to read as many books as possible as quickly as possible. Lord knows why, but I was hanging around with a fellow Christian named Jim, and there must have been some male-competitiveness or something that led to that approach. Needless to say, I’m not in the same hurry anymore. And, in that I did spend 15-years pouring over the text, it’s more a case of re-reminding myself of things more than anything else. My current emphasis is definitely on the reflective angle of it all and addressing the questions that led me to cease my “association” with the scriptures.

Matthew 5
The sermon on the mount/the Beatitudes… often quoted, often misquoted, most definitely Jesus’ seminal teaching. I remember from my Biola/Fuller days that scholars believed that Jesus’ teachings were first “recorded” or gathered in these sayings, which would be later laid across the framework or background of his life story.

[Ack! Now the whole computer has gone down… I switched to another computer since].

My first thoughts when reading the beatitudes was the question, Is this personal? Or is he addressing a social teaching? Again, it’s a question about should I be looking at these words for guidance in my personal behavior or is it really about society? Or maybe it’s both.

In the first three beatitudes (addressed to the poor in spirit, those who mourn and the meek) he is definitely flying the face of the aggressive, self-sufficient “god helps those who help themselves” crowd. But, at the same time I don’t think that he’s advocating a “poor in spirit,” “mourning” or “meek” lifestyle. But, if one were to find oneself mourning or of poor spirit, there is a blessing there. The next six (thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaker, persecuted for righteousness, persecute for Jesus) are blessed because they are living their lives this way despite the “social norm.” Jesus’ first audience and the 1st century church’s first audience were not generally from the social or religious leadership ranks. These are words of comfort for those who might otherwise have no comfort.

Verses 13 through 16 are the “lived example” verses. In the opening verses we are blessed even though our circumstances may be contrary to what society would called blessed. But at the same we’re not unaware that our neighbors look at our lives and how we live when wondering about this Christianity or right living thing…. [continued]

Music: Throwing Shapes – Dirty Vegas – Dirty Vegas

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