Read the whole convo: Mount Jesus
Sorry I haven't been around lately, it's been hard getting access to blogs/email in the semi-wilderness of Texas!
I'm really liking the way the last few posts have been piggy-backing off one another, and you've both made a point that I have never thought of concerning the beatitudes: that they are states of being, not doing. Something I've been noticing lately is the negative situations or events I witness, the negative parts of myself that reveal themselves....what sort of reaction is designed to meet these things? This seems fairly obvious for someone who doesn't break everything down the way I do, but I've been asking "When someone or something afflicts me, what emotion, or state of being does that produce?" Because there is a tendency in me to create an image of what a "spiritual" person feels about something, and then try to feel that way. If someone cuts me off on the highway(and I believe I've heard John use the exact example), many will teach that we are to "pray for" and "bless" those people. Which would certainly be a nice thing to do. The problem is it's usually a manufactured response, because very few people who know about the verse "bless those who curse you" actually have any kind of inclination to do so. And I certainly don't. What if instead I let fly with the finger for that person? Aaaah, very unspiritual. Unfortunately, it's the more honest choice in 90% of situations.
These undesirable states of being listed in the beatitudes- it's seems, as you've both brought to my attention, that we can't flex a muscle and "do" them. We simply are. Or aren't. Poor in spirit for example. The question is then, what brings the disciples, we who are sitting with the Master on the hilltop, to a point where we are self-sufficient, spiritually knowing, "great men of God,"to being poor in spirit? I have an idea, and I think it has to do with the sort of "noticing" that I find myself doing(above).
Jesus continues a little later in this sermon to describe the true nature, the true depth, of sin. It's not only to commit the act of adultery, but even to look. It's not only to withhold from giving, but to give grudgingly. I recently heard someone expound on the nature of covetousness- and it came to me that what if it not only describes a desire for someone else's belongings, but what about an attachment to your own that prevents you from quickly giving them away?
The upshot of this, for many in the do-oriented mindset, would be statements like "well, of course we need to quit doing those sins...we need to be more_____". Is that Jesus' logic here? I'm going to submit that his descriptions of sin and righteousness is to further "rocket-attack" our paradigm about the position that we occupy. It's as if to say "you think you're holy? You think you have no or only a little sin? Let's see if you measure up to this." And he proceeds to list an absolutely impossible standard for living in the Kingdom of God. For living as his disciple.
And at the end of his sermon, I would be left somewhere. Perhaps changed. I would have my self-sufficiency and my paradigm about who's "in" and who's "out" severely rattled. It would leave me, at least beginning to be, poor in spirit.