The Essence of Discipleship (part 2)(by Wil Cunningham)
The Essence of Discipleship (part 2)
Reading: MAT 5:4 The statement itself is odd. It could be translated “O, the happiness of those who mourn!” The goal of the statement though is to point out a conflict between the way that we see life and the way that it truly is, the way that God sees it. Paul speaks in PHI 3:18-19 of those whose value system is the opposite to God’s. This is simple human nature. We often share in jokes that celebrate the worst in humanity, we laugh at degrading acts of drunkenness and promiscuity. We glory in our shame. The passage points out that the end of those things, and those who practice them, is destruction. What the scriptures are telling us is that if we continue living in our false value system our lives will show more destruction than production; at the end of our lives we will have little or nothing of lasting value to show for having lived. To escape this we must allow God to radically alter what we seek, what we believe and what we value. The first step of this is to recognize our own tendency to value what is destructive. Then we must allow God to transform our perceptions of what is desirable and what is dangerous. What we once looked to as a source of enjoyment becomes to us only a source of shame or sorrow. Our laughter must be turned to mourning (JAM 4:8-10). But mourning is not the permanent state of those who mourn in a godly manner. The statement is “they shall be comforted”. The role of the Messiah is to heal the brokenhearted, to comfort those who mourn and to give joy rather than sorrow (ISA 61:1-3). Our passages are not setting a standard of eternal gloom; rather, they show two opposing processes of life. Those who live contrary to the values and ways of God permit themselves to indulge in any immediate mental and physical pleasures; they are without restraint. The end of this process though is destruction. Those who have allowed themselves to gratify their bodily desires soon become enslaved to them. Those who have tasted of every pleasure may soon find no pleasure in anything. The process of the godly is the opposite. Living in accordance with God’s values and ways there are many restrictions; we are not without restraint. However, in separating ourselves from shallow things we are enabled to live on a deeper and more satisfying plane, where true love and lasting fulfillment are possible. As we begin to see sin not as something to glory in but as a source of sorrow we will find many reasons to mourn. But in all of these things we will also find our hearts opened to God who alone can provide comfort, who alone can put an end to sorrow and who alone can make life truly and eternally worth living.