Updated: Dec 2, 2020
On Sunday, November 8, the day after Biden made his acceptance speech, I went to church full of fear. Would people be in sack cloth and ashes because church-y people tend to vote Republican? Would I be made to doubt my vote (for Biden) even though my heart convicted me that the current president -- though anti-abortion -- had been misrepresenting what it means to be pro-life in the name of Christ. I've believed him to be untrustworthy and dangerous, unkind and name-calling. I've desired Christians to stand for gentleness, kindness, and truth, and I've been confused when they haven't. I heard Bible teacher Beth Moore say in a podcast this year that as Americans, many have become pro-Christian rather than Christ like. And I have grieved this and wrestled deeply with myself and God, knowing that my values as a Christ-follower aren't represented completely on either side.
I write this with fear and trembling (truly, with tears running down my cheeks) -- it's possible you will no longer read my blog if I voted Democrat. And I sat in church and sobbed, asking God, "Am I doing the right thing?" And I wasn't just talking about my vote, but about many choices I've been making this year: about how to respond to the corona virus, how to parent in a pandemic, how to speak and learn about social justice. Really, how to be like Jesus in this confusing time, how to participate in a broken world and a broken system and somehow stand for goodness.
And Jesus spoke to me as I was sitting there. He said, I'm not asking you to be right. I have told you to hunger and thirst for righteousness. I see that you are hungry and thirsty. That is enough for me. You are blessed because of it. Only I am righteous. Keep thirsting for me.
Ever since, I am clinging to this truth and finding it freeing. God's grace is over me. I don't have to do the right thing -- because there isn't only one right thing. But I have to continue to stay hungry for his righteousness. If I make a mistake, he will still bless me.
This is totally counter-cultural thinking; it's spiritual thinking rather than fleshly thinking. And oh, how I love Jesus for being so counter-cultural. In our flesh, we want to know who is right, be right, follow who is right, and vilify those who are wrong. We want a path to success, power, happiness, and strength. We want to be seen as righteous and rewarded with praise and respect. But Jesus shows us a totally different way to experience true happiness and blessing.
I want to invite you, this December, to journey with me through some of the most famous, most counter-cultural words of Christ, the Beatitudes as recorded in Matthew 5:3-10.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Here we find ourselves on the first day of the last month of the hardest year that my generation has ever known. And I want to ask you, are you feeling blessed? For my part, this year, I am ALL IN for Christmas, as I cozy up to the truths Christ came to share: that there is kingdom coming for those who know they need rescuing, comfort for the mourning, and inheritance for the meek.
In year's past I've wrestled with the fact that my emotions don't rise to the carols that ask me to come the manger as one joyful and triumphant, to trim the tree with the hope that from now on my troubles will be out of sight. This year, I come on my knees, blessed to know there is no doubt that I need a savior, no doubt that this world needs a Prince of Peace, and no question that God with us is the best promise of blessing.
I don't want to be pro-Christian this Christmas. I want to be Christ-like. I want to know Christ better and be more like him. Especially this Christmas. Especially this year. Will you join me over the next few weeks as I dive further into these blessings from Jesus? I pray that you find yourself hungry and thirsty. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)