I wrote a book about the Beatitudes of Jesus four years ago. I found an Aramaic scholar with a poetic heart whose translation of them came directly from the language Jesus spoke. There is greater depth of meaning in Jesus’s words than our English translation offers. Each beatitude is a sermon in and of itself.
One key point was that the word “blessed” probably doesn’t mean “happy.” The root word that comes from Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, means “something that is suited for its purpose,” or “that which is done at the right time.” Shorter words for this concept are ripe and maturing. To be blessed is to be coming to the point of full completion, your full potential.
It’s like when a tomato is ripe on the vine, or when a blackberry willingly lets go of the vine as you put your fingers around it. You know it’s going to be sweet if you don’t have to pull against the stem. For a person, it’s when all the pieces of the puzzle of who you are as a person – true to yourself and to God start coming together because you are identifying your purpose and where you fit as part of the whole in creation. Maturing are those people who have reached the point where they easily let go of their attachments when it’s time to move on.
I was listening to an audio version of the Tao Te Ching in my truck one day. The teaching sounded like my explanation of: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” It went like this:
Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. Tao Te Ching 76
Wisdom is wisdom no matter who speaks it. Maturing are those who have the strength to be flexible. Hardwood trees break the fastest in a tornado while evergreens stand a greater chance of surviving. Those who are meek, or flexible, have inner strength and possess control over their actions. Pride isn’t sending them off in defensive and destructive reactions.
Too many churches, i.e., denominations, cannot bend or adjust to changing conditions in life. When put under pressure, they splinter like hardwoods in a tornado. Clinging to tradition is simply a worship of the past. You cannot have life without change. Anything that does not change is dead. You don’t have a single cell in your body that is the same as seven years ago. You’ve been totally replaced in seven years. You can’t remain alive if you don’t accept change as both good and inevitable.
Some will claim that God never changes. That’s true. God is love. Always was. Always will be. But to imagine that people two thousand years ago understood God perfectly (remember, God is inconceivable), is folly. Jesus told the Pharisees that they didn’t know God. They had memorized their Scriptures and thought they knew God. No wonder they hated Jesus.
To imagine that you understand God completely is also folly, no matter what you were taught in Sunday school. My understanding of God has changed from what it was a year ago. My fear is that the church hasn’t learned anything new about God in the two thousand years since Jesus was born, thinking that right theology is cemented in concrete. Spiritual growth is ongoing, not never changing.
I hope your understanding of God has changed since you were six years old, or ten years old, or twenty years old, or five years ago. And I hope you’re strong enough to bend with the winds of change because “the times, they are a-changing” (Bob Dylan).