"A Journey Shared - Part 4 "The Garden we Grow Up In".

Last week one of the readers of my Blog posted in the comments section on Facebook that something I had said 'triggered' some thoughts that got him thinking. Not only is that pleasing but a very similar thing happened to me whilst reading an article over the weekend.
The writer touched on the subject of The Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes - one of the most difficult teachings in the Bible.

There is a wonderful saying that says "You are the garden you grow up in".
When I dwelt on the article and thought of that saying the difficulty in understanding the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount made perfect sense.
They are at odds (in fact completely the opposite) with the 'garden' we are growing up and living in.

Here are some thoughts I came up with following some further reading, research and reflection just to illustrate why we have such difficulty with, not only these teachings but (for some) the whole idea of Christianity.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
The 'poor in spirit' are those who acknowledge that they know very little about spiritual matters and wish to learn more. They say "I need help, I cannot do this alone".
The 'world' feeds self help books and New Age teachings 'dressed up' to modernize the Gospel.
Be self confident - you don't need any help from anyone., it says

"Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted".
An enviable state of blessedness comes to those who acknowledge their own state of sin.Increasingly we see that there is no such thing as sin. Secular Humanists and Moral Relativists teach us that we are entitled to 'do as we please'. 

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth". 
The 'meek' exercise humility and show a loving kindness towards others, free from malice and a vengeful spirit.
In our garden we see far more aggression and 'nice guys come second' approach.Be more assertive is the watchword of our world. 

"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied". 
To be righteous (in a good sense) is to learn what God's will is and to able to live accordingly.
The world teaches us that to be successful is to be rich and have power and control 

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy".
In being merciful we reflect a forgiving attitude.
The garden is a world of vengeance and revenge, and the people who live their lives accordingly are those who get all the 'media' coverage. 

"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God".
Pure of heart is to have our minds centered on God and His will. Where all aspects of our life radiate from our experience of God's love.We are taught by popular and social media that we can pick and choose our morality (and increasingly even our gender) to suit ourselves and to adopt a pure heart is out of step with the world - quite simply. old fashioned! 

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God".
Jesus taught a love that loved expecting no return. Only the love of God can cut across the mounting barriers of hatred and revenge.

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
God's realm based on the foundations of love, truth, righteousness and justice are in direct opposition with the values that are based power, aggression, falsehood and exploitation of others.
Everyday we see people who are not being politically correct being attacked for not following the 'liberal agenda'.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[ of this world rather than on Christ." (Colossians 2: 8 - 9)

 "I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.  Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.  Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.' (2 John 7 - 11)

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". (Matthew 6:21)

As CS Lewis puts it:

"One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe - a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference [from Dualism]  is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is.  Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.  He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery.  I know someone will ask me, "Do you really mean, at this time of day, to reintroduce our old friend the devil - hoofs and horns and all?"  Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know.  And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns.  But in other respects my answer is "Yes, I do."  I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance.  If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, "Don't worry.  If you really want to, you will.  Whether you'll like it when you do is another question."...

Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil?  Why is He not landing in force, invading it?  Is it that He is not strong enough?   Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when.  But we can guess why He is delaying.  He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely.  I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side.  God will invade.  But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does.   When that happens, it is the end of the world.  When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.  God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else - something it never entered your head to conceive - comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?  For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.  It will be too late then to choose your side.  There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.  That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.  Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.  God is holding back to give us that chance.  It will not last for ever.  We must take it or leave it." (CS Lewis - Mere Christianity).

Small wonder then, that we have such a problem with being able to distinguish what is of this world and what is not and to discern what is of the Gospel and what is not.

Great is the deception...be watchful.

(DISCLAIMER: I have no formal Theology training so I am happy to be constructively advised by those more qualified than I am.
In a sense I am sharing a personal experience as it applies to my life.
In adopting a Christian Worldview I do not take issue or judge anyone who holds divergent views and therefore cannot make any claim to knowing what God's (as in the Triune God in Christianity) arrangement is with those who follow any other worldview or choose to reconstruct the narratives of the Scriptures of the Holy Bible to suit themselves.

I will also make liberal use of quotes from other writers - they are capable of saying things much better than I am.)


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