The Gospel is radical.
It’s countercultural. It’s paradoxical. It’s life-giving. And it has the power to utterly change the world.
Unfortunately, it seems that a great many Christians have forgotten this basic fact of Christianity. A clear example of this kind of mentality can be seen in Buzzfeed’s recent video, “I’m Christian, But I’m Not…” (thankfully well responded to by Lutheran Satire and reposted by Catholics Memes – see links below.) This popular view of Christianity takes it for granted that Christianity preaches inoffensive, nice behaviour that does not compromise personal goals, pleasures, and luxuries. It insists that being Christian means being an accepting, non-judgmental, tolerant individual, who accepts his or her moral code to be a merely subjective preference with no overriding objective claim on those around them.
And whether you consciously subscribe to this belief or not, the fact is that it’s remarkably easy to fall into subconsciously living out this version of “Christianity.” Culture paves the way, and social pressures and expectations firm it into place. Once the habits are built, it can be incredibly hard to re-order one’s life according to Christianity’s real demands, on Christ’s true commandments.
But, as St. Paul says, “Now is the acceptable time. […] Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2)
So, take off your “toning-down-the-message” filters, and get ready for 8 things that will blow your mind and – if you let them – change your life.
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
We are told by this world that being rich will make us happy. That seeking success and independence is the way to the high life. That getting the latest tech toy, being able to afford the latest entertainments and the most fashionable wardrobe, having the cutest pinterest-worthy decorations, and flaunting it all on facebook, is the way to contentment. But according to the Gospel? Not so much. The poor in spirit – those are the ones that will truly be fulfilled. The little ones, the ones that aren’t attached to all those material things, the ones dependant on God alone.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Not the happy – or rather, not the ones seeking happiness at all costs. Not those living in blissful denial. Those who truly feel the pain and the weight of the sin and brokenness of this world, and those who know the need for redemption – those will be the ones who will know the victory of Christ’s salvation.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Not the proud, not the arrogant or over-confident. And for that matter, not the milksops either! The first must be last, the greatest must be the servant of all (Mk 9:35) – and that takes courage and great strength. These will win the world, and they will do so through the self-giving love of Christ.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Not the apathetic, nor the oblivious. Those who tirelessly seek mercy for the suffering, truth for the lost, and justice for the oppressed. Those who refuse to be jaded by the world’s brokenness, actively hope in Christ’s redemption – and actively let Him use them as His hands and feet – whether it be at a soup kitchen, at a pro-life booth, visiting the sick and the elderly, or the like.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Not the selfish or the self-focused. And not those who hold onto grudges or spite, even against those culturally approved of being deserving of hate. But those who forgive, who reach out in love, not a few times but seventy times seven – and more. Those shall receive mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Not the jaded or the cynical. Though – don’t get me wrong – all have a chance at redemption and a new beginning. But the innocent, the pure in heart, those that don’t allow the weight of the broken world to crush their love and their grasp on God’s truth. These shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Not just those who make peace on the external level, the conflict-resolvers. Especially not the ones who will not “disturb the peace” for the sake of addressing matters of justice, morality, and truth. Blessed are rather those who promote the true peace, peace the world cannot give (Jn 14:27), peace that begins first in the heart and then extends to our neighbours. Those who see a restless and anxious heart, and direct it to the only One that can give it true rest, wholeness, forgiveness, and joy – these are God’s children.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
We didn’t sign up for Christianity because it would “take all our problems away.” At least – we shouldn’t have. Christ never promised us that. In fact, as He has said: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (Jn 15:18) But we are called to persevere, to take up our crosses and follow Christ, and to know that this fight is worth fighting for – because it means the difference between death, and new life to the fullest.
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