The selfitudes…

The Australian Federal election is just a few weeks away. Those of us who are Australian citizens have the responsibility and privilege of voting. We have a voice in saying which candidates we believe will best represent us in the 47th Parliament of Australia. 

Whilst this choice only happens every four years, it got me thinking about the myriad of choices all of us face every day – and in particular, the choices we make in our relationships.  So I conducted a thought experiment and “reinvented” Jesus’ relational choices taught in the Beatitudes by reversing them, and seeing how they came out

Some of the decisions we need to make are important but many are seemingly insignificant.  I say seemingly, because the reality is, the choices we make not only reflect our values and our beliefs, but we actually become more of who we are with each choice that we make. Not only do we shape our choices, but our choices shape us.

The words of Jesus, in what is known as The Beatitudes, are recorded in Matthew 5:3-12 and say…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:3-12

Against that message, contrast The Selfitudes, which convey my imagined voicing of what the Devil whispers to all of us, arising from the background of a culture increasingly focused on the pursuit of happiness of the individual – ourself…

Happy are those who are confident and competent, for they will have lots of friends and be able to achieve what they want.
Happy are those who make their own personal happiness and comfort their first priority, for they will enjoy their life.
Happy are the “go-getters”, for they will give themselves the best chance of achieving their goals.
Happy are those who believe that they are reasonably good and moral, for they will be pretty happy with themselves and have the moral right to judge others.
Happy are those who ensure that they exact judgement on those who wrong them, for they will ensure that others do not take advantage of them.

Happy are those who “look after Number One”, for this will ensure that they only do what they want to do. 

Happy are those who just care about their own needs, for they will not be drawn into others’ messy and complicated lives.

Happy are those who stay away from getting involved with others, for they will then be safe and comfortable.

Happy are you when people praise and compliment you, give you gifts to curry favour with you and suck up to you because they are scared of what you might do to them. Be very happy because you will then have the best chance of having a convenient and fun life and get to do what you want.  Aiming at anything less than that is completely stupid because we only have this one life (and we know what happens to people who do not make themselves their Number One priority)!

What do the choices we make every day say about what we actually believe?

And more importantly, do we want to become the person shaped by these choices?

As people called to be other-person focused and to care deeply about our relational choices, it bears thinking about.

If you would like to press deeper into the implications of Jesus’ relational teachings, including how to respond to conflict and difficult relationships in a God-pleasing way, we encourage you to check out our peacemaking course options happening both in person and live-online.   It might be that God wants to use you to bless another and to be his witness to a conflict-weary world.  Now how wonderful might that be?

This article was written by Li Ai Gamble. Li Ai gained her legal and commercial qualifications from the University of Western Australia in 1990 and has worked in private legal practice and for the Commonwealth Government. Currently she keeps busy as the Training and Conciliation Manager for PeaceWis and a member on a number of Christian Ministry boards. She is a mother of three adult daughters and mother in law to two sons-in-law. 

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