More lectio

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.

I have been working my way through Mathew 5, one verse a day.
Several things that struck me today, as I got to “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” The reaction that feels most intense to me right now is this:
Jesus vocalized our deepest, our darkest fears:
Our fear that we are too much of a mess spiritually to be worthy of God’s love. Our fear that all our pain, struggling, and suffering are for nothing. Our fear that the agressive people will win, that might does make right, that only the so-called strong get what they want.
He didn’t beat around the bush. It’s like there was this elephant in the room and he named it.
And he didn’t even deny it. A natural reaction is to try and minimize things. Amazingly, Jesus didn’t try to minimize the fact that we are in fact, spiritually a mess. He didn’t say “Come on now, you’re suffering isn’t so bad.” He didn’t say “You’re not meek, you only think you are. Remember that time in fifth grade when you stood up to that bully?”
He called it like he saw it. He agreed with us: We are a mess, we are hurting, we are meek.

But he then proceeded to call us out into something greater and deeper. A Reality behind the reality, a Truth worthy of a capital “T”: God love us in spite of our spiritual poverty enough to share His Kingdom; our sufferings will end; the apparent victory of those who aren’t meek isn’t the end of the story.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “More lectio”

  1. hey Jeff,

    i was enjoying the thought of you meditating and praying over the beatitudes. Then, as i read your posts i was touched at the depth of feeling this great sermon roused in you. It’s truly a great capture of many wonderful Truths.

    i’m going to encourage you. Don’t sigh; it’s not always bad or critical! i love you man, it’s my job to offer further insights.

    Focus on “meek”. It is a highly relational term. A person is typically, if not always, meek in response to another person or a conflict. It does not denote ‘weakness’, but does connote weakness. It is tempting to equate powerlessness with meekness. Meekness is an attitude and a condition of humility that indicates a respect for authority and for principles external and greater than the individual.

    i wasn’t sure where you were going with your idea until you offered a hypothetical quote. Whether Jesus would say that or not isn’t the issue. Would he say it in the context of meekness, i don’t believe so. One can be meek AND stand up to a bully. It’s all in how you do it, and where your heart lies that’s key. And, your quote suggests a particular situational conflict that the Passage doesn’t directly support. i read it in a few possible ways; the meekness of which Jesus speaks could be either toward men or toward God, or both.

    A cautionary note: it’s very hard to not look through the lens of our passions when reading Scripture. i know how driven you are by your worldview. It’s admirable until it causes a myopic look at God’s word. At the very worst it produces a proof text.

    i’m reminded of something that’s brewing today in the news regarding Dr. Jeramiah Wright – Barak’s pastor. His passion for social justice issues caused him to preach something that just isn’t true. He suggested that Jesus was a “black” man (i assume like himself) being oppressed by the “white” Romans and their money and power. If that isn’t missing the point of Jesus’ incarnation TO THE JEWS first i don’t know what is. Jesus’ own disciples were remiss in presuming that Jesus had come to liberate them from the Romans with the sword.

    Jesus’ chief foils were the Pharisees, not Ceasar. He had a particular disdain for those who were mishandling God’s most precious gifts (isn’t Isaiah mostly about that?). In fact, He went further and said “Give to Ceasar what belongs Ceasar. Give to God what belongs God”.

    Dr. Wright is so intent on driving home his message, he’s mishandling God’s gift to him. We often do the same thing and should be more…. well, meek.

    i’m not suggesting that you’re grotesquely twisting Scripture here to satisfy a deeper longing than serving Christ. i think i know you better than that. It’s actually, a very common mistake to misunderstand ‘meekness’ and the point of the beatitudes in general.

    peace out


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