From legalistic treatise established about 1200 BC and over the following centuries, the mind probed deeper to capture the essential spirit that lay behind each command.
Together they pointed its adherents to the spirit of love. Prophetic voices spoke of the call to....
Love the Lord your god with all your heart and mind and spirit, and your neighbour as yourself.
As Jesus ministry drew to its conclusion, he informed his disciples that he would give them another command, to Love one another as he had loved them. Again the commandments were taking another step in development. From law, to spirit, and now to the personification of love. Such personification of the divine could be pictured in the being of Jesus.
This is an illustration of how the human mind has been, not only evolving but developing through time. We see evidence of it in ourselves physically. The story historians paint of the development of humans through history is actually replicated through our personal development. Life is a journey of development. We are to mature socially and in character. As spiritual beings this is the very nature of the disciple.
FROM IMAGE TO LIKENESS
Grant and Thompson capture the essence of this journey in the explicit title of their book, “From Image to Likeness”
It begins by affirming that human life is essentially spiritual. Hence the ground of our sacredness is found in knowing we are made in the Image of God. It continues to speak of the purpose of our journey developing and maturing through life to ultimately live in the likeness of Christ. This is affirmed in the epistle of 1 John 3:2.
John declares Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. That is the human destiny, to be like Christ, to personify the universal love.
The conclusion we draw from this picture is that life is one of personal transformation: from Image to Likeness.
One of the truly inspirational passages recorded in our scriptures is the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ as we have just read in the gospel reading. It is also known as the beatitudes. Reminiscent of the Ten Commandments, Jesus lists nine vital attitudes of the life that shape the person who personifies the love of Christ.
Known as the be-attitudes, they are the attitudes we are to aspire to. They are the crucial aspects of our mind that has most influence in enabling us to live the life of transformation. This happens in two ways
Firstly, it requires us to be people who take seriously our interior life. We must be self-reflecting people and have the courage to honestly view our interior experience. When our attitude is misaligned from love it is up to us to examine the cause and endeavour to correct it.
Secondly, we must establish a vision of the loving Jesus. Remember his words, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ This is what we might call the acid test.
‘Loving one another as I love you.’ is the mirror vision of Jesus held up before all people to aspire to. Together with our own introspection in the light of the vision of the loving Jesus, we have the tools to keep stimulating our journey of transformation.
FAITH IN THE WESTERN SECULAR SOCIETY
As a young teenager I was always struck by the teaching that Christians were called to live in the world but not as part of it. We are living in a secular society spread across the western world that has separated its ways significantly from values that the spiritually minded aspires to. As I read these beatitudes of Jesus, I find a way that enlightens me about the way this is to be done most helpfully.
Last week I mentioned the astrophysicist who has lived her life in the military, and now suggests that with the enormous confusion and tension in the world maybe we should solve the problem by starting the third world war and commence again.
We all have different perspectives from which we view life. For her, the military has shaped her mind that it is the window through which she views reality. The spiritually grounded must seek to view all life from a spiritual perspective. We march to a different drummer. The beatitudes beat our tune by which we live.
A LIST OF THE BE-ATTITUDES
- A poverty of spirit
- The importance of mourning
- Hunger and thirst for righteousness
- Purity of heart
- Living for the Kingdom even when persecuted or
- Suffering for the cause of the kingdom
They are a significant list of attitudes. Even though I’m inclined to see them as a significant sample. Next week I plan to explore a little more in-depth the picture they paint of the person who personifie