In a conversation with my siblings yesterday, I was reminded of how different my kids were when they were around two years old (you know, those terrible twos). I was thinking about how my oldest, Ryan, would be so easily manipulated to do something for want of a reward. Say he would want a chocolate treat or something, and I would say give me a hug first and you can get it. Sure enough, he would walk over and hug me and he’d walk away happy with his treat.
My second son, Wesley, was a different story. I would try the same trick if he wanted a treat, but he would think about the cost/benefit ratio. In his own way, he calculated that giving me a hug was too much of a task for too little a reward. So he would just decide that he actually doesn’t want the treat that badly that he would stoop so low to give his old man a hug. So he’d walk away content in figuring this out.
My daughter, Kaylie, who is still two years old, is another case completely. If she were to want a treat and I apply the same tactic of asking for a hug first, she would kick and scream and would stop at nothing to get that treat without having to give her dad a hug. Then it would take another 15 minutes to just calm her down from her tantrum. Then she would walk away angry that I would even come up with such a lame condition for a treat that she so obviously deserved regardless.
Parenting is hard, man. Mostly hard on my ego, but hard nonetheless.
The point though, is that I actually want to give them the treat. I want to see their smiling faces when they bite into those tender morsels. It’s just that I think it’s funny to make them hug me in order to get it (until they start crying).
Perhaps they would be more inclined to hug me if I weren’t such a dork. I don’t think I’ll ever learn.
Here we have the start of Jesus’ very famous Sermon on the Mount, a sermon that has been used many times and in many places for instruction and guidance on proper living and relationship. This beginning portion is typically called “the Beatitudes” and goes over a list of people and how they are blessed by God.
The thing is though, I find that many people misinterpret the intention of the Beatitudes. They see “blessed are…” and we automatically (sort of) think that we must aspire to be these things in order to get the blessing. So we must work to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to mourn and so on and so forth.
For many, this means that we must empty ourselves and be humbled, because then and only then will we feel the blessing from God. While emptying ourselves and being humble aren’t exactly bad things, I don’t think that is what Jesus meant. I don’t think that Jesus is giving an “if you… then I will…” kind of thing. I don’t think Jesus listing out these blessings as conditions.
Rather, I think Jesus is just stating facts. Jesus is telling people of all different aspects of life that even they are loved by God too. Jesus is telling people that their current status is not in any way indicative of how blessed they are or aren’t…. because God blesses them regardless.
And God blesses us. God is with us. God holds us in God’s hands of love, grace and mercy, extending to us a peace that surpasses all understanding… regardless of whether we are poor or rich, whether we live on this side of the city or the other, whether we are male or female. God chooses to bless us and will continue to bless us for all of eternity, for we are called and declared God’s beloved children, joined in unity with each other and the whole people of God.
Thanks be to God!
Have a great week everyone!