The Power of the Beatitudes

Sustaining the earth at Merry Lea

Sustaining the earth at Merry Lea

An assistant professor of “sustainability and environmental education” at Goshen College wrote a devotional for lent. His training prepared him to teach others at the college’s Merry Lea to sustain the earth through care of the environment.

beatitudesIn his devotional the professor referred to the beatitudes of Jesus as human characteristics that have the potential to sustain society , and thus save the human inhabitants of the world.

For the joy set before he endured the cross

For the joy set before he endured the cross

I believe he is right. The intent of Jesus was not merely to save individual souls from the terrors of eternal punishment, but to save society as a whole from its warring madness, capitalistic selfishness, and destruction of the environment.

The beatitudes were beautiful words and Jesus lived a life consistent with them. Words are powerful, too, but deeds are more powerful.   Jesus words and consistent deeds made him  so popular with multitudes on his “left” that they wanted to crown him their king, and civil and religious authorities on his “right” feared him so much that they wished to kill him.

Jesus recognized the danger to himself from left and right, and told his followers to take up their crosses in preparation for death. Jesus already bore a cross.  He carried  a cross long before his enemies placed the old  rugged cross on his bleeding back, then hung him on it.

According to the beatitudes
the poor in spirit,
the meek,
the pure in heart  and
peacemakers are rewarded.

Mourners are comforted,
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied,
the merciful receive mercy,
and peacemakers,
though persecuted and insulted,
they rejoice.

Confronting the Powers

Confronting the Powers

In the spirit of the beatitudes, Jesus confronted the powers of his time and place. As a result they crucified him, not as punishment demanded by God for the sins of the world, (who would want to worship a God like that?) but because the rulers of both Jews and Romans  perceived him to be threat to their position in society they crucified him.  Would God that we were such a threat.

Drones with explosives guided to destroy enemies and anyone nearby, decapitations by sword, suicidal deaths to kill innocents, and nuclear bombs will not save society, or the earth on which we live.

In contrast. the beatitudes lived by all God’s people will sustain both human society and the earth’s environment. That is my hope: A life-time lent by all professing Christians to save the world.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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