At the beginning of Jesus’ most famous address, He was recorded to say;
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I thought it would be interesting to use write the negative version of this and see what it says to us. For the sake of not being too severe, we’ll replace “blessed” with the antonym “unfavored” instead of “cursed. With this in mind, these verses would say;
“Unfavored are the spiritually assured. They don’t know the Kingdom of Heaven.
Unfavored are are those who fail to mourn over their own flaws and sin, they won’t be comforted.
Unfavored are the arrogant, they won’t inherit the earth.
Unfavored are those who think they’ve quenched their thirst and fulfilled their hunger for righteousness, for they will never be satisfied.
Unfavored are the merciless. They won’t receive mercy.
Unfavored are the impure in heart. They won’t see God.
Unfavored are the unnecessary conflict causers, they won’t be called sons of God.
Unfavored are those who never take any heat for what is right. They don’t know the Kingdom of Heaven.”
I didn’t want to write this to be negative and condemning. But I think that spiritual and personal arrogance are a definite problem in the church these days- especially among leaders- of which I am included. We need to be held to task by the words that Jesus says, and consider the implications of not abiding by them.
Our culture has eyes on us and many who don’t follow Jesus have an idea of His character, and probably too often wonder why we don’t wish to emulate Him. Ours is an era where swagger, entrepreneurialism, innovation, and leadership are highly prized, and of course this is a passing phase like any other that will last no more than a few years at best. All these things are good things to some extent, but if they become the end of our spiritual and personal pursuits, we will be left as hollow shells when the fad passes to another set of criteria. We need a deeper connection to the Vine that is Christ (John 15)
If we decide now to truly follow Jesus and submit to His ways, rather than be “children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, and by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:14), we will ascend to a maturity that is beyond all the trends, fads and passing inconsistencies that our culture throws at us and the church so quickly adopts and obsesses over, at the loss of seeing the whole picture of all that God can do in our lives. We will display not only strong leadership, confidence in Christ, innovation and creativity, but also humility, gentleness, graciousness, and desperation to truly know the real Risen Christ. This is something our culture desperately needs to see us doing.