“Gie us Peace!” & “Anything for some peace and quiet!” are understandable heartfelt cries in the face of bawling bairns dug-in to their stubborn trenches of resistance to parental direction, or anyone stressed and strung out in daily life, work and living. And yet, in ‘The Beatitudes’ (Jesus’ top teaching for His apprentices) Jesus promises that, due to our allegiance to Jesus and his counter culture, ‘persecution’ and ‘hard times’ are to be expected.

In all four of our weekly worship centres and special home groups (United Irvine Church of Scotland) we are studying Jesus’ upside-down, topsy-turvy teaching in the ‘Sermon on The Mount’ (Matthew chapters 5 – 7). Jesus’ ‘BE-Attitudes’ set the ‘swim against the tide’ scene by describing Poverty, Grief, Meekness, Righteousness, Mercy, Purity, Peace, & Persecution as measures of maturity in God’s Family. Poverty of spirit (realising how much we need God’s help) leads us through mourning painful loss to raw realism in today’s world of need and into: a meekness (humility & gentleness), receptive to God’s view of the world; a hunger for right relationships (with: God, ourselves, one another, & planet earth); a readiness to channel God’s mercy to others; a growing insight into our core identity as God’s Children that allows clarity and confidence to become ‘Peace Makers’.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” (MSG)

But brace yourself for the concluding step in Jesus’ journey, ‘Persecution’! People don’t always appreciate such counter-cultural challenge and change. But be blessed and encouraged when people give you a kicking, or hard time, for standing up for what’s right and godly, you’re in good company!

Some golf clubs are trying to attract new blood and income by offering reduced commitment membership, ‘membership to fit with your lifestyle’. Churches all too easily play the same game promoting church as a comfortable club to suit your lifestyle, ‘Hot Tub Religion’. In contrast, following Jesus, Who gave and gives His all for Us, is to be all-encompassing and undivided. Godly Apprenticeship, trained by Jesus Christ, is all consuming and about our ‘lifestyle adapting to fit with Christ’s loving and living standards’, not vice versa.

It’s possible to wear glass lenses over your eyes which view the world as ‘upside down’. Wear them long enough and eventually your brain adapts to accept this new world view as the right way up. It’s the same with Jesus’ Beatitudes: How, on earth, can the road to happiness and true fulfilment be through the pain of poverty and gut-wrenching grief? Because they open us up to the unpalatable, unsavoury, and unbelievable truths that ‘WE NEED GOD’, more than that, ‘WE WERE DESIGNED FOR LOVING INTIMACY WITH GOD’, and ‘GOD HAS A WONDERFUL PURPOSE & PLAN FOR YOU & ME.’ Will you put these new lenses on and consistently wear them to see the World as Jesus sees it and join Him in the World transforming work He has for each of us, which at the heart of it is about costly peace-making?