The Counter-Intuitive Kingdom :: BeAttitudes
I was recently with a friend over dinner at a local restaurant talking about life. As we were talking, the Spirit specifically brought the BeAttitudes to mind (Matthew 5:3-12). Our church had recently prayed in response to this section of Scripture communally, initiating a stream of thinking, meditation, and reflection concerning the profoundly counter-cultural, counter-intuitive ways of Jesus’ kingdom contained in these 10 verses.
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom…
11-12 “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. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.
These words expose me like a nerve being drilled into by my dentist. They engulf me in an ocean of self-reflection, the tide culminating with a singular question, “Is my spiritual formation more influenced by our culture or the counter-cultural, counter-intuitive kingdom?”
Inner strength, self-sufficiency, self-rule
Everything is AWESOME, consumed with busyness
Pride, pursuit of the “good life”
Eat, drink, and be merry; life to the fullest
Justice/Vengeance toward those who have wronged you
Self-improvement, self-actualization, self-awareness
Create or avoid conflict as it suits YOU
Getting ahead in the world through ANY means necessary
Rejoice in your stellar reputation on this earth, PEOPLE applaud you
Weakness, broken spirit, Jesus-rule (v.3)
Vulnerability, taking time to grieve and be comforted (v.4)
Humility, pursuit of God’s kingdom (v.5)
Hunger/Thirst for righteousness; God satisfies (v.6)
Compassion and mercy toward those who have wronged you (v.7)
Holistic Spirit-ual transformation, awareness of God’s presence (v.8)
Be ambassadors of peace that point to the coming SHALOM (v.9)
Getting beat down by the world for doing what is right (v.10)
Rejoice when you are mocked, ridiculed, and mistreated as a Christ-bearer, HEAVEN applauds you (v.11-12)
If the world had written the BeAttitudes, I think it would look much like the list above (American Culture) with each principle catered to the INDIVIDUAL. However, Jesus intention was to cultivate a particular ethos within a kingdom COMMUNITY that lives under his rule and reign (note all the plurals).
And if I allow myself to be brutally honest, I’d have to admit that I’m more shaped by what American culture dictates as a “blessed” life. The kind of “blessed” life realized by living under Jesus rule and reign is profoundly counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. It means re-orienting and re-aligning ourselves with the rule and reign of Jesus as a community while living each day in a world under the temporary tyrannical reign of maniacal ruler (Satan). It means together resisting the cultural tide of individualism, consumerism, nihilism, hedonism, etc. to be swept up in God’s love-permeated kingdom. It means daily self-denial in order to embrace the cross of Christ (Matthew 16:24) as sons and daughters in a counter-cultural, counter-intuitive family living under the rule and reign of our self-giving, sacrificial, loving, holy, merciful, just King. And as we learn these unforced rhythms of grace, we become a sign, foretaste, and instrument of that kingdom.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6