its probably the most glossed over of all the beatitudes found in Matthew 5. I think we gloss over it because we think that if we’re not mourning it must not apply to us…or that this will only apply to us once something bad happens to us, that would cause us to mourn. No one likes to mourn, or even face unhappiness. Most just do their best to look happy and satisfied and content on the outside.
Mourning is a lost art. It’s scary, extremely scary, because when you mourn you admit that something is very wrong, that you are lost, that you no longer have control, that your plans have failed, that you cannot explain what is happening.
Before i go any farther, i need to lay out some background knowledge. Since my junior high/high school days, I’ve always had a liking for heavy metal, “hardcore”, music. it was always christian, but it was kind of music that my mom told me had to be from the devil. There’s one band that i particularly like, and it was probably the first “hardcore” band i heard. The band is called Blindside and I have to thank my friend Mark Summerville for introducing me to their music. I’ve added a few more hardcore bands to my favorites list – Underoath, Emery, Project 86, but I still really enjoy Blindside the most. They put out an album a few years back titled The Great Depression. I was very excited about the album because their previous album, About a Burning Fire, was amazing. I got the new album and was a little disappointed. The style was a little different and I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about so I basically stopped listening.
A few weeks ago, I started listening again and the lyrics struck a new chord in my heart. The Great Depression began to make a little sense. The album starts with these words:
We are the sons and daughters of a revolution, revolutionaries walking us out of oppression and into a
no-low promise land.
and this is leaves us with a great sense of sadness dwelling inside our soul. no one can explain where
its’ coming from or where its taking us.
we just know that something is lost, but somehow we are lost, lost
and this my friend, is the great depression
We just know that something is lost…I think Blindside is on to something here. The next song on the album is called This Is A Heart Attack. The chorus goes like this:
We’re at war
Realize this is a heart-attack
One nation under at attack
Heart is frozen but it’s ready to crack
Now I’ve always been a believer in spiritual warfare…not like in the pentecostal tradition by any means, but I believe that it exists. That evil is real, that Satan is real, and that he is fighting against the Kingdom of my Lord, Jesus Christ. I believe that every Christian is at war, but that most are completely oblivious. I believe there are powers at work in our world and in our lives that shape us in ways that are completely contrary to the Gospel. It’s a heart attack. The powers of this world are conforming our hearts to the patterns of this world which lead to emptiness and amount in nothing of worth…and that ultimately lead to death, and not just eternal death but death as an ongoing, eventual losing of life. The ways, the thoughts, and the systems of this world drain us of life, while Christ said that He came that we might have life abundant. I think its interesting that Blindside uses the phrase “One nation under attack” because they’re from Sweden, not the US. That phrase reminds me of “One nation under God”, which our country claims and puts on our money, of all places. It seems to me that this line was meant to elicit this line of thinking, to make a connection to the US. Now, I see a very clear connection between the focus of this song and the lifestyle of Americans in general, but these guys are Swedish. It’s really off-topic but i just found it to be interesting.
So, we’re at war. Our hearts are under attack. What is “The Great Depression”? What have we lost?
I’ve just started reading a book by Ron Sider called “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?” The first chapter is called “The Scandal”. In it, he describes several ways in which the Church – the called out people of God, a royal priesthood and holy nation – live just like the rest of the world who know nothing of a Savior that came to set us free from sin and give us new, real life. He highlights a few areas specifically. Marriage is one that sticks out to me because I’m getting married soon ( in 2 months!!!!! ) and because I hear a lot these days from people who are battling to save the sanctity of marriage from the same-sex marriage advocates. I always find it a little…hypocritical…when people (who are by and large Christians) oppose same-sex marriage on the grounds of defending its sanctity because just look at what Christian people have done to marriage – our divorce rates are just as high, we’re just as likely to have extramarital affairs, and we’re just as likely to experience physical abuse. It doesnt seem like we have any right to talk about the sanctity of marriage. Sider goes on to point out other things – materialism, racism, etc…
I think we’ve lost our minds. Not in a psychopath kind of way, but in a lazy kind of way. We’ve been taught to consume and we’ve forgotten how to produce or we’ve lost all desire to produce. We’ve lost touch with the creative power of God that brings life from death, that makes a way where there is no way, that brings light to darkness, that creates a new way, the way of righteousness, the road less traveled. We’ve lost imagination and the will to apply our minds to think critically about ourselves and our world and our future. That’s why we live like the rest of the world. We just take what is given to us because it’s easier, its cheaper, its more comfortable. We’ve given up on struggling for and fighting for a new and better way. We’ve been co-opted. My man Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this “cheap grace”. He opens his book, The Cost of Discipleship, with these words, “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.”
So…blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. As i hope you are now beginning to see, we have all the reason to mourn. The body of Christ is ailing. I think more of us should be mourning. Remember Jeremiah? He was called the “weeping prophet”. He wept over the state of God’s people. We should too. And not just for God’s people, for our world. Goodness gracious, look at the state of our world. Do we care about the lost? We are to mourn – quoting from Bonhoeffer again, “By mourning, Jesus, of course, means doing without what the world calls peace and prosperity: He means refusing to be in tune with the world or to accommodate oneself to its standards. Such men mourn for the world, for its guilt, its fate, and its fortune.” Bonhoeffer goes on to talk about how the disciple of Christ is called to bear the sorrow of the world as Christ bore our sorrow.
Now what good is mourning going to do? Walter Brueggemann sees mourning as the most extreme and powerful expression of criticism. In his book, The Prophetic Imagination, he describes the mind and function of a prophet by examining Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Jesus. For Brueggemann, the prophet serves 2 functions – 1) criticize the dominant conscienceness 2) energize a new, alternative consciousness. He focuses in on Jeremiah precisely because Jeremiah weeps over the people of God. What better way is there to express that something is terribly wrong than weeping? Think of baby, what do they do when something isn’t right? If you walked past someone on the street who curled up in a fetal position next to the gutter wailing uncontrollably would you think to yourself, “Gee they seem to be having a great day.” Weeping is the purest form of criticism. Weeping makes you very uncomfortable. Have you ever been with someone who was weeping? It’s no fun at all and when I experienced it I just wanted to find a way to make it stop. We avoid it but I think its something we all need as almost a spiritual discipline. I mean dont just sit around and cry because you’re supposed to, but ask the Holy Spirit to create in you a heart that is truly broken over the brokenness you see in the world around in you…and in your own heart.
He will comfort those who mourn and though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning.