The second of the ‘blessings’ that Jesus speaks of from the mountainside is this,
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
On plain reading we could be forgiven for just taking it at face value, for just thinking that when we suffer loss we will be blessed. For sure, when we suffer loss in our lives and we turn to God we find comfort, peace and a love that does not grow cold. The reason loss hurts so much is that death is unnatural- it is a result of sin and rebellion, of living in a dying world. It is right to mourn and when we do we can find comfort in God.
However this is not the kind of mourning that is counter cultural-that seems pretty well normal; in fact it would seem strange to not mourn the loss of loved ones. So what does Jesus have in mind? How is it living in a counter cultural way?
The answer is in what we are mourning! Often as I say, we mourn the loss of life, but sometimes we mourn the loss of things, usually personal belongings. If you have ever had anything stolen you will know the immediate sense of loss, like you have been punched in the stomach. My very first car was broken into, taken on a jolly and then burnt in a field, first thing I knew was the phone call at 7am explaining that the police were looking at the burning wreck of my car! I was adamant it was outside the house until I went down to have a look. The thing is once again its not particularly counter cultural- having something stolen sucks, but a mourning brought about because of sin in our life and sin in the world is what Jesus has in mind and it brings a comfort from God.
When was the last time you put your hands up and admitted fault in something without being pressed first, to take the first steps for no reason other than we are guilty… we simply don’t. We hide our guilt and our shame- we put masks on and pretend everything is great, we don’t confront our sinful behaviour we pretend it doesn’t touch us, we live a lie and what might start small ends up destroying us. It’s no surprise that there is a common misconception that people think Christians walk in perfection- we don’t do well at holding our hands up and admitting fault- yet we should be the first.
I read a blog the other day which said the primary problem of sin is in human relationships and we should repent because it fractures our friendships, but biblically sin completely corrupts our relationship with God and it is His forgiveness primarily that we should be concerned with. Jesus calls us to mourn for it, and as a result be people who pursue the forgiveness of God. That doesn’t mean living in a state of misery- Jesus is talking about there being blessing in living this way- not curse!
The first step in dealing with our sinful hearts and the things that grab us, is to step out from the shadows and front it out- to come clean – all of us are in the same boat, adrift from God. Thankfully Jesus came to save those far off from God- people like you and me.
If we want to be disciples of Jesus we need to get real before God, humble ourselves and be broken for our sin- for what it does to our relationship with God, for what it does to others, to the world- and in repenting and turning back to God we will commit to following after him, not in the shadows but in the light.
If we are willing to be broken, God can craft and shape us into the men and women of God he wants us to be- counter cultural followers of Jesus who are broken by the affects of sin and want to change and want to see the world change! If we are to front out our sin and mourn for it, then for the sin in the world, we can be people who punch holes in the darkness, people who draw attention to Jesus, not through our perfect lives but through our brokenness which points to the need for a perfect Saviour.