This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on March 5 2017.
Jesus’ set of people types in the ‘Beatitudes’ (Matthew 5:3-12) surprises us. The actions and attitudes he commends here are things that are either humiliating, costly or emotionally draining. Yet we are not only expected to cultivate these as followers of Jesus, but are even blessed because of them.
Those ‘who mourn’ grieve over the sin they know to be all too prevalent in themselves and over the disregard for godliness in the world around them. For these people the words of the psalmist and of the seer Ezekiel reflect a commonplace emotional experience: “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law” . . . “[they] weep and sigh because of the detestable sins committed in their city” (Psalm 119:136; Ezekiel 9:4). These are the people who actually care about the depravity of sin. Jesus does not commend apathetic affections. But he promises comfort to those who are righteously disturbed. Their comfort will come with Christ, when he comes and transforms and purifies his people and brings justice to his world.
May God forgive us our cold hearts! May his Spirit warm our hearts and appal us at both our own iniquity and at the everyday godlessness around us. From our end, a practice that will help us to grieve over sin in everyday life is that of meditation – reflecting on God with God, considering his goodness and his holiness. Let us be found among those who mourn!