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Matthew 5:10-11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IV

Saturday, January 14, 2017matthew-5-11

Jesus proposes that we set aside our desire for honor and fame. Today we consider the qualities of steadfastness and fidelity that Jesus tells us are essential if we want to follow his Way.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity.

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. (GNT)

This picture of the world sees mockery and hatred against us as a consequence of our persistence in adhering to the Law of Love.

Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will say bad things about you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do these things to you, you are happy. (ICB)

This view of the world sees suffering for Christ as an antidote to animosity and evil.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees rejection for God’s sake as the deepest kind of blessing.

The Gospels show us how Jesus hopes to prepare each of us to follow him. They show us that God will persist in transforming evil with that goodness. They show us that the Spirit abides in loving understanding that the Way of Love is difficult but unconditionally rewarding.

How do we persist in our hope to put aside honor for the authentic recognition that each of us is loved beyond measure? How willing are we to ignore the mockery, persecution, exclusion and hatred of others . . . and greet all with the open arms of Christ’s love?

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand that persecution becomes blessing when we agree to follow Christ.

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Luke 21:14-15: Remember

Wednesday, November 30, 2016getty_rm_photo_of_finger_with_string

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. (NABRE)

This advice goes against the grain of modern society. Smartphones bring an Internet of knowledge to our fingertips; they also bring false reports and charlatans.

Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters. (MSG)

Our egos want to depend on data provided by polls and surveys; and these data may lead to inaccurate conclusions and foolish decisions.

Make up your minds ahead of time not to worry about how you will defend yourselves, because I will give you such words and wisdom that none of your enemies will be able to refute or contradict what you say. (GNT)

Power and fame, accolades and wealth bring false confidence; and none of these protect us as does the wisdom of Jesus. None of these can save as does the Living God.

So make up your minds not to worry, rehearsing your defense beforehand; for I myself will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that no adversary will be able to resist or refute. (CJB)

Anxiety brings us false worry. Faith in the wisdom of the Spirit brings us hope. Anger affirms false power. Love brings us the eternal peace of Christ.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore varying translations of these verses, we find new reason to reason to remember the wisdom and promise of Christ.

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Psalm 49: Self-Rescue

Sunday, August 28, 2016psa-49-15-ww-stock-9x

Yesterday we heard from Peter about sloppy living; today we hear the psalmist’ words on the foolishness of trusting in wealth. Today we pray Psalm 49 using THE MESSAGE translation and we open ourselves to the understanding that God alone saves, God alone transforms, God alone gives us the gift of eternal life.

The psalmist prepares us to hear words that save.

Listen, everyone, listen—
    earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
    and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

The psalmist delivers words that calm.

So why should I fear in bad times,
    hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
    demeaned by the arrogant rich?

The psalmist sings verses that reveal.

Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
    pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
    and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
    against the Black Hole.

The psalmist speaks verses that ring true.

Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
    wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
    move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
    And to think they named counties after themselves!

The psalmist declares truths that are evident.

So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
    and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
    fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
    and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
    where they’ll never see sunshine again.

The psalmist proclaims words we will want to sing out together as we give thanks for God’s gifts of assurance, redemption, and rescue.

Listen, everyone, listen—
    earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
    and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

Compare this translation with others to better understand the psalmist’s message.

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1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part II

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cornelis de Vos: KIng David handing the Scepter to Solomon

Cornelis de Vos: King David handing the Scepter to Solomon

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done . . . 

As we move from childhood to maturity, we take on commitments and we either fulfill or turn away from promises. As we seize control of as many facets of our lives as possible, we also strive for success as the world around us identifies it. And somewhere in the blur of activity and struggle, they is always the chance that we might move away from the core of who and what we are.

In the story of David and Solomon we find two men, and the women who surround them, scrabble to come out on top and in front, surrounded by security, relaxing into comfort. The details of David’s anointing and rise, his battles with both his enemies and King Saul he has pledged to serve, are all benchmarks in David’s life. So are his interactions with Michal and Bathsheba, and the prophet Nathan. David’s son Solomon must also struggle against heavy odds to survive into adulthood and to assume his father’s seat of power; but later he succumbs to the wishes of others and the lure of success and fame. Details of a temple are laid out and even include specifics about music, vessels and decorations. Life at court attracts both those who support and those who tear down what once was full of hope.

How do we arrive at the peak of power in our lives? What do we store up for the journey ahead and what do we jettison? What do we tend to and what do we ignore? Does our relationship with God grow or diminish? Have we found wisdom that nourishes and serenity that heals . . . and do these gifts from God even matter to us?

Today we take time to examine our lives to see how or if we have followed God’s lead in the living of our hours on earth, and to examine the kind of kingdom we have been building. We consider what we have set aside as having great value and what we have cast off as holding us down. And we discover, in the many relationships and encounters we have experienced, that both our storehouse and the debris we leave behind reveal a great deal about who and what we have become.

The two books of Chronicles have four major portions: a genealogy of our leaders beginning with Abraham (1 Chronicles 1-9), a description of the monarchy under David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 9 – 2 Chronicles 9), the divided kingdom (2 Chronicles 10-18), and the period from Hezekiah to the Babylonian exile (2 Chronicles 19-36). This story of divine promise interwoven with human commitment and infidelity tell a story that we might see reflected in our own personal sacred history. This story is worthy of our time over the next few days.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Imperishable_Seed[1]1 Peter 1:23

Imperishable Seed

You have been born anew, not from perishable but imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God . . .

We yearn for immortality and yet we are immortal.  We want to leave a mark that generations to follow recognize and yet we are part of a chain that has no end and no beginning.  We amass material goods thinking to make ourselves secure and yet we receive the gift of eternal guidance and care from the moment of our inception.  We ask God for endless gifts that in the end will gain us nothing and yet we ignore the gift of God’s presence that brings us surety, eternity and serenity.   We plant perishable seed and leave the imperishable seed to languish.

God says: Comfort, peace, stability.  These are the imperishable gifts that many of you struggle to gather about you and to pass on to loved ones. Fame, fortune, power.  These are the perishable seed that others of you covet, gather, sow and reap.  What you do not see is something that Nature is constantly teaching.  What you sow, you will also reap.  When you control loved ones they pull away from you leaving you alone. So who is left to you?  When you amass wealth you leave little for others.  So who abides with you?  When you cause chaos and fear you sow distrust and anxiety. So who remains with you?  And what is your legacy?  You have within you my comfort, peace and stability.  If it is fame you seek above well-being you will be disappointed.  If it is power you seek before stability you will be disillusioned.  If it is fortune you want rather than peace you will be frustrated. You need not amass anything.  You already have and already are what you seek.

We have surety in that God nerve waivers from the lesson of love.  We have eternity in our union with God.  We have serenity in our relationship with God.  These gifts are indescribable.  They are given to us freely.  All we need to is follow, love one another, and trust in God.

For another reflection on this verse, click on the image above or go to: http://gdwm.org/index.php/2012/03/imperishable-seed-2/

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