GENERAL COMMENTS This is the second "Beatitudes Project, Special Issue”, published by the Adventist Review. The first appeared in 2003 and was the product of "young adults, restless and seeking. . . .[that shared] the possibilities of living in the Beatitudes now, despite the 'costs'." Five years later Kimberly Luste Maran has given twenty young writers the opportunity to share what the Sermon on the Mount means to them. They share " in a variety of ways—theological examination, practical application, personal experience, humor, poetry—all revolutionary thoughts on a still-relevant gospel".
Critiquing these authors’ words would be almost sacrilegious. And besides, old guys like me need to spend more time listening than talking. So I've decided to share a few of the quotes that startled me into a new appreciation of their talents and their ability to make Jesus' words contemporary. However, I do have one suggestion for readers. Before you begin reading this Special Edition, read "The Adventist Community as the Light of the World: Claiming the Whole of Mathew's Vision", Ernest Bursey's brilliant essay in the Winter, 2008 edition of Spectrum. It will provide an illuminating, contemporary, and scholarly framework for what you're about to read in this very “Special Edition”.
Nathan Brown: "Humility is seeking to serve and save others, at a cost to ourselves and perhaps even before ourselves. We risk ourselves based on the little we know of the greatness and graciousness—the humility-of God"
Kimberly Luste Maran "Helping others is a tricky business. Jesus keeps reminding us of this. It's when we think we're 'being of use' that were often acting in arrogant and self-righteous ways."
Becky Dewey: "A relationship with God begins with raw honesty. . . I’ve felt the closest God when I've been most honest with Him: opening my closet of infinite questions, pulling the bandages back to reveal my latest wounds, or crying angrily at God as He holds me.”
Ryan Bell : "Peacemaking—announcing and enacting peace in our world—is evangelism. . .Taking our cues from Jesus' example, we cannot proclaim peace violently. We cannot ensnare people into freedom. We cannot deceive people into the truth. . .The language of peacemaking is more helpful than pacifism, which implies passivity. There is nothing passive about the peacemaking Jesus calls us to in the Gospel. . .In short, being peacemakers in God's kingdom means being radically committed to overcoming evil with good."
Stephanie Johnson: "Peace does not descend magically upon passive observers. It is not a happy result of patient expectation. It is brought about by people called 'peacemakers'. . .Peace is achieved by breaking down barriers. Peacemaking is not the absence of war; it can be violent, messy, active, and loud. Christ said, 'I did not come to bring peace, but a sword' (Matt. 10:34). Peace must be made—carved out by attacking those things that separate. . .Have we Seventh-day Adventists, as individual believers, bloodied our hands tearing at the stones that divide society? Have we led the charge to tear down the walls and shake the earth? Or have we mistaken silence and passivity for peacemaking?. . .We should be the foremost makers of peace in the world—so adamant about it, so dedicated to it, so active, effective, and aggressive in the face of inequality and injustice, that as the veils part and the rocks split, those who watch will be compelled to say, 'Surly, these are the children of God'."
Tompaul Wheeler: "Maybe if we dedicated ourselves to solidarity with the truly persecuted around the world, we'd be a little less petty here at home. . . When people spend their time kvetching about how they get no respect, for some reason it doesn't tend to inspire more respect. When people live like they know something worth dying for, selflessly pouring themselves out for others 'like a drink offering' (Phil. 2:17), as Paul wrote from a dungeon, the world takes notice."
Falvo Fowler: "We read the blessing on the persecuted as applying chiefly to ourselves—as Christians—but the blessing Jesus spoke extends as far as the compassion of God extends. When we are not the ones being persecuted, it is our mission has His followers to support—to stand up and shine for—those who are being victimized."
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/519