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Unhappy: The Good Life (1)

. 4 min read
2014/01/12
Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer,
Psalm 42
Children,
Genesis 12.1-4
Message,
Matthew 5.1-12
Context:
      Preaching the good news of the kingdom
      Curing every disease and sickness
            Including demon possession
Expectations
raised: the GOOD LIFE
      “Blessed”
Disciples
and Crowd
      Blessing & invitation
Calligraphy
and needlepoint
      Domesticated
      Innoculated against the revolution
Greek
for blessing, makarios, lexicons:
      Friberg – in non-religious context, lucky
or fortunate
      Liddell-Scott – Plato, syn, “rich and
better educated”
How
would you define the “good life”? 
What
makes a person a “lucky dog”?
      Reputation – looks even taller in person
      Mary Chapin Carpenter: “I feel lucky”
            Dwight Yoakam’s in the corner,
trying to catch my eye
            Lyle Lovett’s right beside me with
his hand upon my thigh
            The moral of this story, it’s simple
but it’s true
            Hey the stars might lie but the
numbers never do
            I’m feeling lucky tonight
      Exceptional: The Secret of My Success: “We’re not like other men”
      Wealth, sex, power – perennial human
desires, in some combo
Jesus
shares his version of the “good life”, and it looks nothing like what we would
expect and nothing like what the crowd would expect.  He probably even surprised the disciples when
he told them who they were.  They’re
blessed … and they’re the poor, the mourning, the meek.  Had they signed up for this?  Did the crowd really want to get in on the
act and participate in discipleship as well?

The
Good Life, according to Jesus: Matthew
5:3-10  
Blessed
are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed
are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed
are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed
are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.
Blessed
are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed
are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed
are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed
are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You
signing up for that?
Some
sound logical:
      The merciful receive mercy
      Those who desire righteousness will be
satisfied
But
some simply do not line up with experience:
      The meek inherit the earth? 
      Those who mourn?
      The poor – by any definition?
      The persecuted?  Really?
Is
Jesus glorifying poverty?  Is he
romanticizing it?  Is he clueless about
how the powerful actually inherit the earth and dispossess the meek?  Is he spiritualizing the blessed life … “so
spiritual as to be no earthly good”?  We
might do that, especially with the phrase “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”,
but Jesus’ view of the kingdom was here and now as well as there and then.  Jesus’ view of the kingdom included
“inheriting the earth”.  What is going
on?  And it seems hardly “happy”, more
like “unhappy”!
Dietrich
Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship,
chapter 6
      Not blessed because they have chosen
poverty …
      Poor … because they have chosen Jesus,
said YES to his call
      Blessed because they have chosen Jesus,
said YES to his call
Saying
YES to Jesus is saying NO to all else
      Covenant Group: Jesse is God’s child, not
yours
Saying
YES to Jesus is saying NO to all else
      To our selves, to our bootstraps, to our
all our “self-made” potential
            Poor in spirit – kingdom of heaven
(not our own kingdom)
      To all other gods, all other relationships
            Mourn – comforted
      To our own rights: “I’m within my rights”
            Meek – inherit the earth
      To anything other than the righteousness
of Christ
            Be filled
      To give up our “dignity” and embrace the
“humiliation, sin, wretchedness” of others (Bonhoeffer)
            Receive mercy
      To give up even our own goodness
            True innocence is unaware of
goodness; Be pure, to see God
      To give up our bitterness
            Make peace
      To give up respect and safety
            Embrace rejection and persecution
Saying
YES to Jesus is saying NO to all else
      Sounds like a recipe for unhappiness
      Exactly what we resist at the core of our
beings
            But are we actually happy?

Perhaps
if we let down our defenses we will hear Jesus speak over us, from the cross:
“Blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed.”