Culture is enamored with the idea of transformation, especially what can be captured in a 30-60 minute 'reality' TV show. Admittedly, I've been drawn in by many of these stories. But what does transformation really mean? Advertising over-promises and under-delivers with miracle diets, workouts, lotions. We hear lots of testimonies or public apologies of people "turning over a new leaf"...hmmm... It’s easy to be skeptical whenever anyone suggests anything about life change.
A couple years ago, there was a popular video circulating around the internet about Jim Wolf, a homeless veteran who went through his own makeover. With a team of stylists, he was “transformed" in a time-lapse video from a disheveled nomad to a well-dressed, ready-to-interview gentlemen. I have to admit, I loved the outward change. But, What does it mean to go through lasting change?
Transformation IS possible, just not easy or quick. Lasting change requires constant attention of our hearts! Jesus suggests a new way to be human (Matt.5) — an interior reworking followed by sustainable outward expressions. It implies we have to create room in our hearts—like cleaning a wound before it gets bandaged.
Jesus begins each statement with a loaded word, "Blessed…”, meaning fully satisfied, not necessarily feeling happy. Consider the process that he outlines as blessed...
- 'Poor in Spirit' learn to see their need for God beyond their success, talents, & resources. They’re ‘blessed’ because they can identify God as the Source.
- Those who ‘Mourn' experience how God sustains, even strengthens, them in weakness. They find comfort knowing God’s actively writing & redeeming their story.
- The ‘Meek’ trust God with results. They ‘inherit’ the currency of God's promises and faithfulness.
- Growing in ‘righteousness’ means God shapes the desires of our heart. Their hearts ‘filled' with hope and justice.
These first four Beatitudes describe how we nurture our hearts in light of circumstances. The second half represents an outward response:
- Showing ‘mercy’ becomes a more natural reaction because they've already experienced it!
- The ‘pure in heart’ begin to see God in poverty, in crisis, in suffering…and willingly insert themselves on behalf of justice.
- ‘Peacemakers’ contend for a better way even if it involves more effort. Being at peace with God, they’re more able to express God’s concern.
- Whether consumed by a desire for righteousness or persecuted by others because of it, the ‘persecuted’ learn to see God in sickness & success, conflict & comfort, burnout & blessing.
Life in Christ, then, is an invitation to becoming human, again. Our commitment to faith, mission, and each other is a chance to have our hearts re-sensitized and made new. The road might can be winding. Glad we’re on the journey together.