Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision. (Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision)
[…] almost everything Jesus said about the nature of Christian discipleship is precisely the opposite of what our culture exalts.
Take the Beatitudes, where Jesus (in Matthew 5:3-12) describes the characteristics of those who truly follow him. When you compare these traits to what our world commonly values, you clearly see the upside-down nature of God’s ways.
Blessed are the poor in spirit? Our culture looks down on those who aren’t self-sufficient, self-reliant, and self-made. It commends those who are “rich in spirit”.
Blessed are those who mourn? We tend to dismiss those who acknowledge the dark reality of their own sin. They’re psychologically unhealthy, and their real problem is self-esteem.
Blessed are the meek? We exalt the socially strong and influential – the powerbrokers. After all, what do we see more of- conferences on serving or conferences on leading?
Blessed are the merciful? Blessed are the peacemakers? Mercy and peacemaking appear weak; revenge is tougher, more honorable. After winning a game by forty-two points, a famous basketball player was asked why his team’s starting lineup stayed in after the outcome was certain. He replied, “You don’t get anywhere in this world by having sympathy.”
Blessed are the pure in heart? Our culture is obsessed with removing guilt by denying wrongdoing. Christian purity is a deeper transformation dependent on begging for mercy from God. This kind of purity in our culture is unwanted and, frankly, offensive. (Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different, Multnomah Books, 2012, pp.20-21)