A Face in the Crowd
Do you ever feel like you need a break from trying so hard to be good and do good? Has your life become a marathon race of trying to be good and do good. Do you secretly long to just read a trashy romance novel rather than inspirational books on how to be good and do good? Do you want to binge on Gilmore Girls rather than use that time to pray and meditate on how to be good and do good? Do you often feel guilty for not being better and doing more?
I have felt all of the above lately.
I know from past experience, that when I feel this way, it means I’m out of whack. It means I am trying to be God instead of trying to be Godlike. Once again, I have taken on the troubles of my little world and the broader world and think I can ease them on my own.
I have good days when I can surrender this backpack of burdens and really believe that God will take good care of them in His perfect time and in His perfect way. I relax and find peace and rest in my days. Or day, I should say, because so often the surrender only lasts a day, at most.
I get very impatient with God; I grab my backpack from Him and fling it back on my shoulders. I figure out ways to solve the troubles. Most often those ways involve a lot of my time and energy. It involves me being good and doing good. The more “good” I become and the more “good” I do, the better chance the situation will change, the person will change, the world will change.
This being God is exhausting, obviously.
I also know that when I get whiney like this and feel burdened, I need a good shot of encouragement. The gospel for today is powerful encouragement from Jesus. The Beatitudes. And boy did he know his audience. He knew just what kind of encouragement they needed.
He knew there were those who were poor in spirit, totally relying on God. But fighting doubt.
He knew there were people who were mourning. Those who lost someone they loved dearly or something that was good.
He recognized those passionate about justice, those who keenly feel the pain of injustice. He sensed the suffering.
He noticed the merciful, the persecuted, the clean of heart, and the peacemakers, and wanted to make sure they knew they were seen by God and had God’s promised to know reward.
He spotted those trying to be good and do good and finding it very hard and asking if it was worth it.
Can you picture yourself in this crowd? Do you believe Jesus knows and notices what encouragement you need and provides it? Just as Jesus knew the hearts of his audience on the Mount, he knows intimately the state of our hearts. He knows just what we need when we tire of the race.
I encourage you to read Matthew 5:1-12 and put yourself in that crowd Jesus is speaking to.
Then when you are done, bring out that romance novel.