All along, we’ve meditated on the idea that these blessings are given to all of us. That in this ‘upside down’ version of the Kingdom of God, people who might not have been recognized as being valuable, became significant in the sight of Christ and the eyes of God. It’s as true today as it was when these blessings were written down almost 2,000 years ago.
Of course, Jesus lived his life by demonstrating that the tenets of his own faith — Judaism — already prioritized compassion for people on the edges of a community: widows, orphans, strangers and others who could be overlooked due to their lack of status and power. He lived the values he had been taught by his own faithful parents. He modeled those values for his disciples.
What does that look like? He ate meals with outcasts who might be considered traitors to their own people, such as tax collectors who had authority but worked for an oppressive regime. He healed untouchables. He let questionable people come near to him, when his friends tried to keep them away. He fed people. He accepted invitations into the homes of socially-isolated folks. He argued with the best scholars and lawyers and spiritual teachers of his day. He picked rough working-class friends as his companions for the road. He found respite in the homes of women like Mary and Martha. He defended people accused of wrongdoing. He spent time with among people struggling with undiagnosed illnesses ranging from epilepsy to mental health conditions. He gave his time and attention to people who lived on the margins.
Jesus described, in the Beatitudes, people who lived on the outskirts of any community. By his recognition, he drew them—and continues to draw us—into the center of God’s kingdom.
To be called a peacemaker, and then to be embraced as a child of God, is to be welcomed into kinship and connection to a holy family. It is to be adopted and called beloved.
All of us, it is likely, have found ourselves living out one of these beatitudes or another. They aren’t an equation for how to live perfectly. They’re a description of the here-and-now, deep down in the raw reality of being human, and what that looks and feels like.
At some point, we have reflected one or more of these conditions. We have been hungry and passionate. We have been poor and stubborn. We have believed without reason and become desperate enough to let others help care for us. We have hoped when it was hard to go on. We have seen something holy and sacred in other people, even when it might be difficult. We have responded to hate with love, to discord with curiosity.
We’ve been amazing and strong and creative and compassionate. We have also messed up. We have, as often as not, gotten our living and loving wrong.
Yet the wonder of the blessing is that it isn’t offered to perfect practitioners of peace-making or the other characteristics described in the Beatitudes. Jesus doesn’t expect us to have everything all figured out. We don’t have to check off all the boxes or to qualify for some special degree of sainthood.
This blessing is for the peace-makers. It’s for people like you and me. People, like us, who are works-in-progress. We’re living our lives, imperfectly and messily, with a yearning for something more, a marrow-deep, soul-stirring desire to connect to Godself. We want more love than indifference, we want more peace and healing than hate and hurt.
You. Me. Us. We are the mixed-up, messed-up, trying-to-get-it-right children of God. — Rev Gail
I am to be loved, honored and respected solely because I exist … I am a beloved child of God after all. ― Emmanuella Raphaelle
As children of God, we are walking portals to the Divine, and the Kingdom of Heaven is within. ― Benjamin Decker
I do not stop being a child of God because I am a problem child. ― Bryan Chapell
Just because you are a child of God, that doesn’t mean you can act like a child. ― Robert Gilbert
Although claiming my true identity as a child of God, I still live as though the God to whom I am returning demands an explanation. I still think about his love as conditional and about home as a place I am not yet fully sure of … I keep entertaining doubts about whether I will be truly welcome when I get there … I am not yet able to fully believe that where my failings are great, ‘grace is always greater.’ ― Henri Nouwen
… no matter what I look like, where I live, or how much I have now, I am a princess. I am a daughter of the King of Kings! That’s true of every one of us who belong to God. We are … born ‘for such a time as this.’ … It means we’re uniquely positioned with our particular gifts, experiences, abilities, and limitations to do something further God’s kingdom here—in this place, at this time, and among these people. ― Sarah Christmyer
You will find that there is a mighty power, a non-exclusive, eternal dimension that actually can change your psychology, your joy of life; it can lift you up, give you a sense of self beyond anything you imagined to empower you to become that child of the universe, a child of God to whom … goodness can come. Take the time to seek … ― Theodore J. Nottingham
Challenge or Question: Can you use the symbolism of your own parent-child relationship to imagine being loved by Godself? If not, what sort of relationship have you experienced, that fully recognizes you and supports you as a valuable human being, in place of that image? Some suggestions might include: Teacher and student? Friend to friend? Coach with learner? Sponsor with twelve-step participant? If your parent-child relationship can hold up as an example of a loving model, then identify a time when you felt accepted by your family, even if you were not at your best?