Trials and Tribulations

After a few days holidaying in Airlie Beach and catching up with friends in Townsville, which have been really nice, tomorrow sees me “trial for license” – part of the ongoing process of becoming a Presbyterian minister.

I’m preaching at a fairly old school Presbyterian Church in Townsville in front of a few members of the North Queensland presbytery who will “appraise” my performance and pass judgment on my ministry suitability.

I’m preaching on the Beatitudes. Here’s a paragraph from my sermon.

“But I want to suggest, at this point, that we’re not looking at the beatitudes right if we understand them as a set of rules to follow to be part of God’s kingdom. I grew up thinking that the word “beatitude” was a description of what these verses mean – I thought they were a set of instructions for how we should behave, and what our attitudes should be. The beatitudes. But I think the meaning of these verses does hinge on what the word beatitudes actually means. It’s latin. It means “blessings.” And it picks up on that repeated “blessed are” phrase at the start of each verse.

The beatitudes aren’t about what we have to do to be in the kingdom – and in fact, as soon as we read them that way we’re slipping into the same trap as the Pharisees. We’re making rules and regulations for belonging to the kingdom.”

Then I say that the beatitudes are about God’s blessing of us, through Jesus, whose life and ministry are modeled on the beatitudes. Doesn’t seem heretical to me… how about to you?

3 thoughts on “Trials and Tribulations”

  1. Bonhoeffer might say that you’re standing in the good tradition of Luther, and then have a crack at you for detracting from the need for Christian obedience. (See the beginning of The Cost of Discipleship.) The Beatitudes might not be about kingdom entry, but aren’t they about kingdom behaviour?

  2. Yep. Absolutely. Which is where I went. I just wanted to make the distinction between meritorious behaviour and behaviour as a response to being part of the kingdom.

  3. As long as lawkeeping is a response to redemption and not an end in itself then I think we are on the right track. I’m sure if I were a Presbyterian I’d say you have been adequately Presbyfied.

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