Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Preparing for Pentecost 15

I don’t think many think of this, so let me make it clear right away: if love of God and love others is the foundation and final expression of what we are designed to be, if Pentecost empowers us to be this, then I want to suggest that Sermon on the Mount is an exposition of what it looks like to love God and to love others. (So, the 4th part of 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed.)
If you’ve followed this blog or my writings, you will know that I think it is a big, big mistake to see the Beatitudes as a list of virtues. Nor is it a Jesus version of Paul’s fruit of the Spirit. Instead, the Beatitudes are a list of the gaggle of folks that found kingdom redemption by following Jesus.
In other words, it’s a list of the kind of people who make up the people of God, the followers of Jesus. It is a list that “all kinds” find their way to Jesus.
If I connect the Beatitudes to anything in the early church, I link it to Pentecost — the day when those first Jewish followers of Jesus began to realize that God’s work was a whole lot bigger than they ever expected. The day they learned that Gentiles — raw and Greek-speaking and Latin-speaking — were finding their way to the table with Jesus.
Pentecost empowers us to be the universal people of God. And Jesus’ Beatitudes cracked the window open on that one. The kingdom is made up of folks one would never expect to see there and some of those we thought would certainly be there are outside looking in.

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Gary Manning

posted April 11, 2008 at 2:05 am

I have tended to see the Beatitudes not so much as virtues but as values. They ask us to value states of life that we previously despised – to value, for example, meekness and lowliness over aggression and dominance. What do you think of that approach?

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posted April 11, 2008 at 4:59 am

“…the Beatitudes are a list of the gaggle of folks that found kingdom redemption by following Jesus.”
WONDERFUL!! Is this not high on the list of things much/most of the church has gotten wrong over the centuries?
LIKEWISE “…I think it is a big, big mistake to see the Beatitudes as a list of virtues.”
Is this not a weakness of (at least much of) the Anabaptist strain of the church?

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Bob Brague

posted April 11, 2008 at 7:35 am

I probably can’t state this as coherently as I’d like, but I’ve long thought of the entire Sermon on the Mount (not just the Beatitudes portion), since it’s in Matthew’s gospel, as Jesus telling the Jews of His day how a a PERFECT man would keep the Jewish law. In other words, a wake-up call to them that they were falling far short of their calling and inheritance (example, “Who then can be saved?”). And it reveals to the rest of us (non-Jews, non-first century, postmodern, whatever) our own inability also, apart from embracing the substitutionary work of Jesus and the grace of God, to keep it either.
Don’t know how that fits in with your series on Pentecost.

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Scott M

posted April 11, 2008 at 8:13 am

Hmmm. The problem I see with that, Bob, is that it imposes a very non-Jewish perspective of what it meant to live under Torah or even what it meant to be “saved”. I’m also not sure it takes into account the people to whom Jesus was speaking. In the Sermon on the Mount, in particular, these largely weren’t people who were considered the most Torah observant. To put it mildly.

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posted April 11, 2008 at 8:37 am

I agree with Scot’s view on the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ words most often are directed toward groups, not individuals. The Sermon on the Mount (and Luke’s version-The Sermon on the Plain) represents what the Church following Jesus should look like. If we want to know how to live as a faith community, these words will define and shape our lives together.

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posted April 11, 2008 at 8:43 am

^ sorry, didn’t finish my thought.
This is much easier said than done. That is definitely why we need the empowerment of Pentecost to live this out.

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posted April 11, 2008 at 11:50 am

I had a bit of a flash of insight as I read: “Instead of being a gathering of just one kind of person–righteous, God-fearing, Torah-minded males…”
I figure some might not take kindly to this insight, so put your “Jesus Creed Civility Hat” on before reading on…. 8)
After reading that statement, I wrote on page 76 (which is blank — thanks, Scot!):
“The NEW Covenant Community is VERY different from the Old! They do not go nicely hand in hand down the street. One is the foundation (shadow), the other is the Body/Temple (reality) where the LORD dwells. It is not about separation and purity and perfection in our personal covenant keeping … it is about great unity in the midst of incredible diversity; it is about hospitality and mercy to the outcast and marginalized who are now “in Christ; it is about “cracked Eikons” who allow God to be glorified in the twin rule of availability and vulnerability to the move of the Spirit and the “hearing and seeing” of who God has put in our path.
In The Beatitudes, Jesus brings blessing into our every day life experiences — where we are called to love God with all that we are and have (even when it doesn’t seem like much). And that blessing of our “small offering” is seen to feed those around us as we love others.
I particularly came away with the thought that Jesus did not necessarily see those who follow him as having EACH of these realities in their lives. When you ask the question on page 80: “What are you “known for”?” I am known to weep with those who weep. It is a very broken place, but it is the truth: no one cries alone if I see or know about it. (The side benefit to this is I have given up wearing makeup — just too much mess! 8) )
This little “hummingbird” is enjoying this “bite-sized” journey. Thanks!

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Bob Brague

posted April 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Scott M. (#4), if Jewish people living in Israel in the first century didn’t know what it meant to be “saved,” then why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke (18:26) all ask the question “Who then can be saved?” after Jesus tells them it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to eneter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:25, Mark 10:26, Luke 18:26)? Apparently they had some concept in mind. And how does Jesus, a Jew speaking to Jews, impose a non-Jewish concept of the Torah on them? And elsewhere He said he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.

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