“…But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
The Nike slogan burns in her mind: Just Do It. Jesus’ Beatitudes are for doing. The mirror of self-revelation shows Susan she is proud in spirit, rather than submissive; she is comforted by physical luxury rather than by spiritual repentance; she seeks blessing by grasping rather than by relinquishing; she longs more for recognition than for righteousness; she finds herself more likely to judge others than extend mercy; she conveniently forgets to confess and repent of her idolatries; she procrastinates from her mission of peacemaking, and she insulates herself from the potential of persecution.
What then of Susan’s hopes and dreams? How does Jesus envision her living this opportunity of life He’s given her? What use of her skills, abilities and talents would be consistent with beatitudinal living?
See yourself as a grain of salt, replies Jesus. Alone, you will find life disappointing, disillusioning, un-blessed. You will be easily lost in this world. You were meant for so much more.
“You are the salt of the earth”, Jesus teaches. “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
If Susan is serious about her relationship with God, she will heed the direction and the warning. She will begin to understand that she has been offered the rarest of opportunities. Her love for God will enable her to turn her world upside-down if she is willing to apply Jesus’ principles to her life. Reaching out to others, she will find herself affecting the hungers and thirsts of their lives. Her saltiness will bring out the true flavours of Christ’s life-sustaining body-bread life-food for which her world hungers. Her saltiness will leave them with a thirst for more.
But if she fails to accept and act upon the laws of Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, Susan’s faith will be trampled and destroyed by godless men. She will fit into neither world. She will be as ineffective and unnatural as salt that has lost its saltiness. The stakes are high and Susan will only realize it as she learns from Jesus’ teachings, as she begins to live the upside-down gospel of Jesus.
Every one of us who have read the Beatitudes is a Susan. Having read Jesus’ words puts us, as James observes, into a position of choice. We are no longer ignorant of His will for us. We have looked into the mirror of His Word and seen ourselves as God sees us. If we are honest with ourselves, we have some ways to go before we are the sorts of people God envisions us to be. His Holy Spirit is hovering, waiting to begin today’s task of making upside-down kingdom-dwellers. He’s waiting for a word from us, a whispered prayer granting the Holy One access into our body, mind and spirit. What will today’s prayer be? ‘Lord, let me mourn’? Or ‘Lord, make me meek, become merciful, be pure’? Or ‘Lord, let me spread your message of peace’? The Beatitudes are a good place to start. Live them. Breathe them. Pray them. It will take more than one prayer to turn our lives upside-down. Today is a good day to begin.