Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12, Psalm 69:29-33, Isaiah 61:1-3, 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Like many of you, I have spent the last week glued to the news about Hurricane Harvey. I live about two hours west of Houston and have been unable to wrap my mind around the devastation.
I was texting with a Houston friend yesterday, checking in to see how her neighborhood is faring. She and her family are okay, but she knows many who are not. While volunteering at an evacuee shelter, she noticed how exhausted many of the mothers looked. They had been sleeping in large rooms, on cots with multiple kids, babies, and families around. So my friend had the idea to set up a night nursery. She and other volunteers would take the nightshift, watching the small children and babies in one room, so tired moms could sleep in another.
Taking the night shift means nobody will see her volunteering, except for the babies whose diapers she will be changing, who she’ll sing lullabies to and rock to sleep. It is the opposite of glamorous work, but it is the exact definition of kingdom work. Quiet, unseen, faithful.
In theory, I love the Beatitudes. I love the way Jesus turned expectations upside down when describing who would inherit the kingdom of God and how. In practice, however, I live by a different set of attitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit? How about blessed is she who depends on herself for her own needs? She will go far in life, never relying on others.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? How about blessed is she who hungers and thirsts for more social media followers? She will increase her platform.
Blessed are the peacemakers? How about blessed is she who is always right in an argument? She will be called “the winner.”
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake? How about blessed is she who does whatever she can to maintain her comfort? She will be… comfortable.
When I really look at my heart, I find these are my true attitudes, the place from which I live my life. I am individualistic, out for my own glory, trying to save face, and hesitant to step outside my own zone of comfort.
There is nothing like seeing your friend step up to take the night shift during a natural disaster to put your own heart in check. It forces me to ask, What am I seeking? My own glory or His? Who am I looking to for approval? Others or the Father?
Jesus entered into our world in an unexpected way. He wore no crown. He had no throne. He simply got to work. He took the night shift. He healed and performed miracles, as the Pharisees looked on and judged. He spoke truth even when His disciples abandoned Him because of it. And He died on a cross as Roman soldiers scoffed at the sign they placed above His head: King of the Jews.
Jesus turned it all upside down—the way we thought the King would come and the way we thought we could secure a seat at His table.
We want to be big fancy warriors standing by His side. But His command to us is to fall back in the ranks and tend to those who have fallen. To kneel down low, as He did for us. To take the night shift and “be glad and rejoice, because [our] reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12). We may never receive a medal or a trophy for our work, but we have already received the greatest reward of them all: eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.