Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Søren Kierkegaard considered purity of heart. For him, purity of heart meant clarity and focus and passion and living. So when Jesus blesses the pure in heart, he’s blessing a clear-sighted and uncontaminated approach to life. Perhaps it is more important that we strive to be pure in heart, rather than whether we attain it. If we think too much about being pure in heart we know we will never make it – but we can try. On one occasion, Jesus explained the basic principle by which he operated – he just did what he saw his father doing. He kept a look out for God’s action in the world and joined in. This experiment is a start to exploring this, as usual in a much truncated form:
Pick a prayer like "God, I want to see you."
Or, "God, show me what you're doing today."
Notice anything that occurs to you afterwards - do you want to
go somewhere, or see someone or read something.
You decide what to do with these thoughts. You may see God in
some of these things - if you do, you may want to thank him
for revealing him to yourself.
When we chase God with all of our heart, we tend to find him.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
This isn’t about the absence of noise, the absence of disturbance. This isn’t about keeping the peace either – it about making peace. It is about the advent of harmony.
Making peace means creating something new into being where there was once disharmony. It can be a risky business as it is basically quite presumptuous on our part. We can be stepping in to other peoples business, perhaps without invite. But perhaps in being peacemakers, we are in a way God look-alikes. The experiment:
Think about a recurrent situation that frustrates you or annoys you.
Frequently pray peace over the situation or person. Use little
tools to remind you through the day - watch alarms, or associations.
And do some watchful waiting - try and see if there is any way in
you might have an opportunity to move things along to the kind of
peace you would like to see.
Sometimes the acts that make up these steps towards peace are small, but perhaps significant for those involved. But when we pray for peace we get to be ‘in on the act’. We get to know what it is like to be a child in the family business.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Righteousness is a word they can be quite heavily loaded. In choosing the word ‘sorted’, we can instead think anew about getting ourselves put right and wanting the world put right. It doesn’t change the beatitude, but it allows us to look at it anew. This experiment is a start to exploring this, as usual in a much truncated form:
Find a quiet place and invite God to join in with your thinking.
Think of an area where you are dissatisfied somewhat. Don't rush to
find things wrong with your self, instead think of somewhere where
you can see where you are now and a new place where you (and God)
might like to be in the future. It might help to think of you
becoming the 'true you' who God made you to be. If you dare,
invite God to be involved in bringing about this new you.
You may want to confess to God times when you 'fall short'
and tend to the 'old you'.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
When we show mercy we are not only free others, but free ourselves too. In exploring this beatitude we are encouraged to experiment with showing mercy. But rather than start with our worst enemy (or perhaps our greatest enemy), requiring a seemingly impossible amount of mercy, we should rather start with the people in our everyday lives who perhaps just mildly offend us. We can move on to the bigger things with practise.
Find a quiet place.
Think about somebody who needs your mercy, perhaps somebody you
struggle to relate to well.
Imagine a movie in your mind of a good interaction with this person.
This is the future you would like to be a reality. Invite God into
this situation and pray for this person.
Maybe even release yourself from holding a grudge if you need to.
If a grudge is like emotional muscle cramp, then mercy is the gentle massage that releases us.
Here’s some more beatitudes from the book we are looking at in one of our house groups:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Here we are encouraged to think about the things we mourn for, and bring them to God. In laying out of our stall before God and sharing our sufferings with him, we can hope to find comfort in him. In the book, this is turned into an experiment:
Find a quiet place and talk to God about anything that concerns you.
Share your thoughts with God and sculpt them into requests.
At the end you may conclude by thanking God for listening.
Put as simply as this it may sound too simple or naive, but this isn’t the whole of our conversations with God. But perhaps it is also not a bad place to start.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
The word grounded is chosen here, over meek, and although it isn’t a perfect translation, it gets away from the traditional view of meekness that perhaps makes us think of weakness. Instead we think more of humility, gentleness, presence. It’s more about keeping out feet on the ground in the here and now. Only in the here-and-now can we be loved, only here can we be loved. So in this experiment we are encouraged to attend to our current experience of whatever we are doing.
Find a quiet place.
Focus on your senses and decide to be present in the here-and-now.
Adopt a prayerful gratitude to the world around you.
In this experiment, we may find that out of the being in the here-and-now leads to thoughts about what we need to do. Perhaps these are the moments where the meek (or the grounded) shall inherit the earth.
In one of our house groups we’ve just started reading the book theGODlab, by Roger Brotherton. The book is described:
“Adopting a take-it-for-a-test-drive approach to spirituality, ‘The GOD Lab’ takes us deep into the exciting and quirky world of knowing God in real life. It is a handbook for spiritual adventurers, a signpost for the curious, and an encouragement for the committed. With freshness and verve it presents eight sayings of Jesus as experiments open to anyone. Whether searching for spiritual connection or just vaguely intrigued by Jesus, this book offers a kind and creative approach to the most profound questions of the human heart.”