Reflecting on the Beatitudes, E. Stanley Jones once said: "At first sight, you felt they turned everything upside down. At second sight, you understand that they turn everything right side up. The first time you read them, they are impossible. The second time you read them, nothing else is possible. The beatitudes are not a chart for Christian duty. They are a charter for Christian liberty."
Luke 6:17-26 is a version of the beatitudes, and it describes the distinctive lifestyle of a child of the kingdom. To see the whole picture, to look beyond what we are presently experiencing and find opportunities to make life better.
Jesus didn't offer us the kingdom of God, eternal life, utter fulfillment, the peace that passes all understanding, the joy of the Lord, just so we could "make a difference," but that we might make a different world.
That we not merely (to borrow Bonhoeffer's phrase) to bind the wounds created by the crushing wheel, but to destroy the crushing wheel itself.
God sent Jesus to redeem the world. As Jesus' redeemed and disciples, we are to join in making life different, not just for us, but for the world around us.
Be prepared when we offer the world Jesus' message of redemption, complete re-creation, miraculous rebirth and personal transformation, we unnerve and disturb those who are satisfied with and invested in status-quo.
Donna Van Trees is pastor of Ebenezer United?Methodist Church
If we follow these teachings, Jesus suggests that we love our enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other one also; if anyone takes your coat, do not hold back. Give them your shirt. Give to everyone who is in need, and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
What is the proof that we are living out God's desire for our lives - the world that is changed by how we live our lives.
An Amish man was once asked by an enthusiastic young evangelist whether he had been saved and whether he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The gentleman replied, "Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here is the name of my banker, my grocer, my farm hands. Ask them if I am saved."
I believe Jesus' challenge to all of us who call ourselves Christians is to "Go make the world a different place."