Dearest Hope Family,
Perhaps like many of you, the Speakman family huddled up to take in the Presidential Debate on Tuesday evening with mixed results. We ran the gamut of reactions – not even engaging at all from the start, getting wrapped in the intensity of the interchanges to the point of raising voices at the TV, having to tap out several minutes in because the tenor of the frenzied “communication” was just too much, and leaving it on to the bitter end as background noise.
I ran across one person’s unsettling take on the experience: “The debate we are watching is a mirror. It is us. We are seeing our marriages, our relationships, our churches, our social media engagements reenacted on national television.” While not exhaustive and admittedly a broad generalization, I found this assessment convicting. The combative, frustrated and frustrating, needing-to-get-our-words-out- at all costs, not-seemingly-desirous-of-
As we wrap up our consideration of the life upon which Jesus pronounces hearty blessing (the Beatitudes), it is a perfect time to ask, again, what do we do with what we see of ourselves in that mirror from Tuesday evening? What do such dynamics require from those who trust in the finished work of Jesus for this life and beyond?
The last Beatitudes enforce a hard reality check: When we engage a cursed and cursing world with the blessing of grace and its lifestyle, the immediate impact is not blessing in return! This is the great paradox of the Christian life – the life which Jesus enables and blesses by his grace!
Dr. Dan Doriani spells out the stark contrast:
“The world blesses the rich; Jesus blesses the poor.
The world blesses the carefree; Jesus blesses those who mourn over evil.
The world blesses the assertive and aggressive; Jesus blesses the meek and gentle.
The world blesses those who can get what they want; Jesus blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
The world prizes the trouble-free life; Jesus tells disciples to rejoice in persecution.”
John Stott reminds us, “Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value systems.” Acknowledge and appreciate the clash, but don’t give in to the undertow towards self-preservation and self-concern. Don’t give in to the cursed world’s cursing and suspicion.
There will be a thousand ways this very day to trade insult for insult and ugliness for ugliness. There will be limitless chances to bulldoze those who stand in your way of getting what you need or think you deserve. There will be a host of opportunities to withdraw and disengage because it seems as if living a life of blessing and trust gets no traction or reward. There will be not a few conversations or social media posts in which you will want to talk over others or get your jabs in.
However, because you are blessed by Jesus, extend that blessing, even when, especially when, the response isn’t warm acceptance, understanding, praise, and reciprocation! Let’s bless the cursed world as those on the receiving end of the “unsearchable riches” of Christ’s grace and peace.