Blessed Are The Flexible...
Tucked away in the beginning chapters of the gospel of Matthew (Chapter 5) are what are called the "beatitudes." Growing up I assumed that they were called that because, naturally, they are great attitudes "to be/have" with others. Later though, I learned that beatitude is simply the Latin word from which we get the word "blessed."
These eight beatitudes that Jesus shares from the hillside describe to all of us the life of someone who is truly happy and rich in the Kingdom of God. These eight declarations of Jesus describe a well-rounded life characterized by humility, service, and perseverance.
But there is a beatitude not mentioned by Jesus in Matthew's gospel that has almost become "gospel" through its longevity and repetitive use over the years. It is usually only shared when someone's circumstances are particularly tough and the situations they are facing are inconvenient, nerve-racking, and painful. This could include anything from work-place drama to road rage temptations to being closed up in your home or someone else's, or even a military base during a pandemic. The list really is, honestly, seemingly endless. But it might be during one of these tough and painful times that someone may lean over to us and whisper, "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape."
Flexibility is something that is lost if not maintained regularly. And the only way flexibility is maintained is through being stretched. This is true in every area of our life (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). And as my age has increased I have learned that I have needed to be flexible in terms of handling tasks that my body may not be prepared for (i.e. "warming up" or "stretching out").
It seems to me that the same could be true for us spiritually. As we grow in Christ, God's expectations for us grow. I believe we learn this as we follow Jesus and his disciples when he says to them shortly before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, "I have more to say to you, more than you can bear." (John 16:14). Also in the Bible we see people described as not being prepared for what the Holy Spirit wanted them to "live out" when Paul writes to the church in Corinth. He characterizes his instructions to them as "milk" because instead of being people who are "living by the Spirit," they are instead said by Paul to be people who are "worldly," "jealous," "quarrelsome" and "mere infants in Christ."
In both of these passages we understand that there is a distance between where God's people are and where He wants them to be. One word comes to my mind when I consider what would be a perfect remedy for this distance from where people are to where God wants them to be: maturity. Maturity develops as someone gains knowledge and experience and then puts that new knowledge and experience into practice. We could say that maturity is being stretched beyond what we are accustomed to so that we can reach farther.
As Christians I believe we are being "stretched" (maturity opportunities) for the goal of furthering God's kingdom. So we've got to remember that life is all about God's kingdom and not ours, and if we are feeling stretched beyond our comfort level, that it is God increasing our flexibility for His glory and for His will to be accomplished in His spheres of influence through our lives.
So I return to the adage, "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape." And as I contemplate it further, I consider a slightly different ending, perhaps a more positive one. Let me know what you think. "Blessed are the flexible, for they will inherit God's shape."
For your consideration, benefit, and God's glory. Pastor Kurt