Shall or might and a metaphor for life
There is too much unhappiness in the world. Six out of seven dwarfs are not happy.
It struck me this week that the difference between shall and might may be what is wrong with our faith life and commitment as we journey to the Father. We are all on that journey that shall end with judgement and reward to the worthy.
The Word Among us January 2017 challenges us to consider the difference between shall and might in the beatitudes from Matthew 5:1-12. Suppose we change the word shall to might:
Happy are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven might be theirs.
Happy the gentle: they might have the earth for their heritage.
Those who mourn might be comforted.
Those who hunger and thirst for justice might be satisfied.
The merciful might have mercy.
The pure in heart might see God.
The peacemakers might be called the children of God.
Those who are persecuted for righteousness…the kingdom of heaven might be theirs.
People hearing the Gospel this way might stop going to church.
Some years back I was chairperson of the Teachers Local Committee. We negotiated a shall clause we had wanted for years. How exciting it was to go back to the teachers and explain the new benefits.
Now consider the beatitudes in the light of the shall clause Jesus negotiated on our behalf:
Happy are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven shall be theirs.
Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown to them.
Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called the children of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: the kingdom of heaven will be theirs.
Now do you see why this particular sermon of Jesus has had such a profound effect on the multitudes then and now? Why it has been called the Manifesto of Jesus? Jesus is saying: This is how it is. Will you be a part of it?
I want to share a metaphor for life which can allow us to continue to grow successfully in God’s grace. Recently I dreamt I was looking at the posted report cards of students. I knew that some of them had failed dismally and I wanted to see how that was expressed on the report card.
I looked through all the cards and I did not see one with a failure mark on it. I saw some that were sparkling with great success. I saw some that were plain, but indicating progress. Others were just amazingly brilliant to look at. Then I realized what it all meant.
God keeps our heavenly report cards open, and we can always improve on them. He does not record our failures. The devil would like to mark our reports with a big black X, like a mega death.
But God keeps recording our successes and forgiving our mistakes. Our report card, like our Baptismal gown of white, keeps improving.
So when we leave Sunday worship we know that we have added to the beauty of our heavenly report card. We should live our lives with a will and not with a might.