“It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.” – Alfred Adler
Me and my buddies at ClashChurch.com have a regular monthly men’s meeting we call “Warriors and Wild Men.” As you can imagine, it consists of guys being guys. We go hunting and fishing, we work out in the swamps lifting logs and rocks and we burn our quads on coral-choked, overheated, South Florida bike trails. In addition, we portion plenty of downtime to burp, scratch and fart as we enjoy a cold one while roasting a sa-weet puros, or two. It’s a real caveman experience. Why do we carry on like this? Well, because we can.
Like an idiot, however, I decided to switch gears a couple of months ago and add some substance to our zaniness. I decided that since we toss around Jesus’ name quite often maybe we ought to study what He says every now and then.
So . . . me and the boys started diving into Jesus’ first tape series, a.k.a. “The Sermon on the Mount,” as well as a study on SOM compiled by Os Guinness…quot;and boy, did that ruin our evening. All of a sudden, as we poked around at His words, we had to start doing stuff like repenting, begging God and people for forgiveness and asking for His assistance to soften our harden hearts from being self-obsessed Neanderthals.
As much as I thought that I had hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place when it came to Christ, when I/we examined in detail what He demands, we fell shorter than Evil Kneivel did in his ‘74 Snake River Canyon jump. After reading the SOM, I’m convinced that I mirror Jesus about as much as a warthog parallels Laetitia Casta.
Why am I writing to the public about my tarnished and haggard halo? Well, in every election year Jesus’ name gets tossed around more than a drunk midget at a Godsmack concert; and I’d like to know that as I wrangle for His principles in the public square, I’m at least quasi-practicing them in my private life…quot;because it is very possible to be for God while He is against me. I want to make sure that I don’t fight for His principles without really living up to them.
As our church began to really search His word and apply His words to our worlds, we ended up getting whacked. We examined His Se7en Virtues in contrast to hell’s Se7en deadly sins, and . . . uh . . . we found out that . . . well, uh . . . we were . . . uh . . . um . . . a little . . . eh . . . let’s say, lacking. So to speak.
Check it out:
From a cursory glance at the gospel of Matthew, it seems as if Jesus digs . . .
1. The virtue of poverty of spirit (humility and selflessness) more than He does the vice of pride, self-absorption and self assertion.
2. The virtue of mourning (y’know . . . sharing the unhappiness of others) over the vice of envy, which is the resentment of the happiness of others.
3. The virtue of meekness (the refusal to do harm to others) and the desire for peacemaking over and against the vice of anger, which is the willingness to do harm and to destroy others. (Does it feel warm in here? Does anyone else feel toasty? Because I’m getting hot.)
4. The virtue of hungering and thirsting for righteousness (having a passionate pursuit for God, the good and the ideal) in contrast to sloth, which is lethargy toward God, the good and the ideal.
5. The virtue of mercy (the desire to reach and to share with others, even the undeserving) as opposed to the vice of avarice, which is the greedy grasp and the selfish hanging onto of this world’s goods.
6. The virtue of being persecuted for righteousness (having a dedication to that can surmount even the deprivation of even basic necessities) and being distinguished from gluttony, which is the drive to consume an inordinate amount of the world’s goods.
7. The virtue of purity of heart (the true desire for God that centers and unifies the soul) versus lust, which manifests itself as an inordinate and dissipating desire to use other people and their bodies (from a distance or up-close and personal) to gratify ourselves.
In the next few weeks I’m going to do a humble and ham-fisted exposition on the Se7en virutes we need to embrace and the Se7en deadly vices we need to avoid if we really want to speak and work “for God” in a cruddy culture.