Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).
On Saturday morning, I met a man who taught me about the Beatitudes.
We sat across from each other at Troy’s Barbecue where a small group of citizens of various races meet monthly for breakfast and conversation. Rome Georgia’s One Community United movement promotes these meetings to help us find common ground and common cause. So since he was black and I, white, I sought an opportunity to connect. But I did not anticipate that this new friend, Rev. Robert Carson, and I shared a passion for the Beatitudes.
As I sat down next to my pastor, Rev. Greg Lund, at the table, Rev. Carson answered Greg’s questions about the after school tutoring program at his church, New Zion Baptist. I noticed the soft-spoken, serious manner of Rev. Carson who asked me to call him Robert. Soon thereafter, Greg checked with me about plans for the release next month of my book, Blessed at the Broken Places: Reclaiming Faith and Purpose with the Beatitudes.
Robert leaned forward. “Tell me more about your book.” So I told him the book shows how the Beatitudes validate the faith of people in emotional pain and empowers discipleship through “power made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He responded, “The Beatitudes are among my favorite verses in the Bible. I speak on them four or five times a year, sometimes at the invitation of other churches.”
Then he told me more.
“Look at the end. Jesus blessed the persecuted. The Beatitudes show what a good life looks like, and that includes being persecuted for living that way.” Then he elaborated on the encouragement that gives him and his congregation as they try to live the virtues in a world that often resists them and their gifts.
He continued, “And he says, ‘You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.’ The Beatitudes describe your saltiness and what the world needs to see. Salt brings out the flavor in food, and light helps people see clearly. He’s telling us not to stay in our own churches and keep it all to ourselves, but make friends with people of other races and faiths. We will add flavor to the good they’ve already got, and we will help them see the grace that is already theirs.”
I told him he said much that I wrote in the book and then some. Then I thanked him especially for the insight into the Beatitudes as resources for reaching out. He reiterated:
“Yes, and even then, persecution might come. Then people get hurt and close off, holding their blessing in a tight fist. But Jesus says, ‘Open your fist and offer your gift anyway. Sometimes getting hurt is a sign that you’re getting it right. You are suffering with me. And peace will come.’”
I felt humbled and grateful that God sent me this man to teach me more about the Beatitudes. As if he read my mind, Robert concluded, “You know, I see more in the Beatitudes every time I think about them. There is always something more to learn.”
Amen and amen!
Keeping Faith Amid an Invalidating Environment
Costly Grace for the Rest of Us
Viktor Frankl: The Search for Meaning Outlasts the Forces of Hate
Our Mother, the Peacemaker
Eagles, Rattlers, and Pirates Making Peace