“It’s All in the Attitude”
Micah, 6:8; Matthew 5:1-12
Have you ever been sitting with a group of people when someone comes into the room and just deflates the great atmosphere in the room? Maybe you’re all sitting around laughing and sharing stories when someone enters who’s in a bad mood and the energy in the room just plummets through the floor. I’m sure it’s happened to most of you at some point. There’s many things that can affect our attitude. People, situations, weather, time of day, many things impact how we feel at any point in the day.
I remember after the bubble burst in the high-tech industry there were good days and bad days. Sometimes there were even good hours and bad hours. There could be a day when we’re getting along great, having fun, getting lots of work done, but then we get the message that a meeting is being called by a manager, and our attitude would change immediately.
We were a department that covered a lot of area in the company. We knew that the meeting could mean a lot of things, but with threats of lay-offs coming all the time, we were always cautious of these meetings. It could have simply been an update meeting where we report on the projects we are working on, they could be telling us of lay-offs in other areas of the company, meaning our department was then going in to clean up the left-over technology, or they could be telling us about reductions in our own department. We often never knew until we got into the meeting. It was pretty rough to stay motivated for your work when stress like this came up on a regular basis.
It’s hard to stay “up” all the time. It’s hard to keep excited, to keep motivated, be keep being positive when all you hear is doom and gloom. I’m an optimist and I can’t do it all the time, it takes way too much energy.
It’s easy to get frustrated. It’s easy to say, “I’m done! I’ve had enough!” and walk away from the problem. In a way you could say I did just that in my final year in the company. I wasn’t at my most productive. I came in late to work a lot. I left early. I didn’t give the company my full attention, my full 100%. This is an easy trap to fall in to, especially if you feel like the company isn’t reciprocating the effort. They don’t appear to be giving back as much as you put into it. When you feel like people aren’t buying into what you are most interested in.
Like many people there are two things I am very interested in, both of which are connected to the future of my children. One is their education, the other is the environment. I want to see changes in these areas, but when I see the news and it’s reporting about huge spending cuts in one story, and then in the next it’s telling us it’s too late to save the environment because governments don’t take it seriously, then how am I supposed to be motivated to help bring about changes?
As Christians aren’t we supposed to be the ones who are preaching about God’s love wherever we go? Aren’t we supposed to be the happy go-lucky-people who never get mad, frustrated or speak down about anyone? Aren’t we supposed to be the eternal optimists who see everything beautiful in the world and look forward to the return of Jesus so we can be free from all the riffraff?
It’s not easy, is it?
It’s not easy to keep focused on God’s love for us and all of creation where we are continually bombarded with the negativity of the world. People losing their lives for no real reason at all. People living in pain and fear. Governments being over-thrown. Rioting in the streets of major cities. Climate change. Toxins in our water, our air, our food. Corruption in our governments. And almost all of it fuelled by greed and pride.
We end up feeling lost. Hopeless. We have no idea where to go or what to do.
Jesus’ sermon on the mount is a good place to start, especially the Beatitudes. I almost called this sermon “The Be Attitudes” but felt that was just a little too cheesy.
In the beatitudes, Jesus offers hope. He says,
“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 receive 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 for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the hungry for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, the reviled. These people are blessed by God. Why? Because it’s hard work. It’s not easy to do all these things and to find the motivation to keep doing them day after day.
But who are these people? Who are the poor in spirit? Who are the mourners? The meek? The hungry? The persecuted? Who are all these people Jesus is talking about?
They are the people who do the work of God in the world. They are the people who struggle to show the love of God to God’s people in a world that fights against it. They are the ones who fight the injustices of the world and try to make things right, one person at a time. They are people of God.
We have to admit we’ve become pretty comfortable in our rich, western culture. We’re used to not having to work very hard compared to other parts of the world. We’ve left the work for others to do for us.
But there are things we can do. Is there something that pushes your buttons? An injustice you just can’t keep silent about? Something you wish would change so the world might be just a slightly better place?
Then it’s time to act. There’s no, “I’m too old” or “I’m too weak” or “I’m too busy.” We all have gifts to offer. Some of us can spend time in prayer for these things we are passionate about. We can write letters. We can make phone calls. We don’t have to be the ones to march on parliament hill, but we can offer support in other ways, so that when they do march to bring public awareness, people will know they are there, and they will know what they are there for.
We didn’t read the old testament reading this morning from Micah chapter 6. I put it on the cover of the bulletin this week as something to think about. It says, “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
What does the LORD require of you? Well, let’s see. To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
What did Jesus do? Jesus healed people. He called attention to how people were being unfairly treated. Jesus did justice. Jesus also loved people. He was kind to people. He had good friends who also did good work, and he supported them. And more than anything else, Jesus walked humbly with God.
Jesus didn’t boast about what he was doing. He didn’t set up a carnival wherever he went. He didn’t sleep in big hotels or ride in fancy cars. He didn’t get up at noon and see who was at the door who might be bothering him for some help that day. Jesus simply walked among people and they came to him. Jesus didn’t seek fame and glory in what he did. He did things that got him in trouble. Things that were unpopular. He did things that no one else was willing to do. He even got up before dawn every day, before anyone else, so he could go and spend time alone in prayer. He took time to pray to make sure he was still in sync with what God had put him on earth to do. Jesus didn’t take all the glory when he did good things for people, he always pointed back to God as the authority, the source of what he was doing.
Jesus had the right attitude. And when we look at the beatitudes we see the attitudes we need to adopt as children of God. As people who are one with Jesus Christ. We need to be people who are willing to struggle in the name of Jesus Christ. We need to be willing to do the unpopular work in order to make God’s love known in the world.
Jesus spoke clearly about what is in store for those who follow his instructions. He said to those he addressed in his sermon, he told them, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…”
When we accept that we are children of God, one with Jesus Christ, and we do the work we are required to do, “To seek justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” we are heirs to a great reward.
It’s all about attitude. It’s all about who we are as people and how we view the world around us as Jesus calls us to see it. To see it as a world that is broken in many ways and to walk with God in bringing restoration to the goodness of His kingdom.
We are God’s servants in the world, followers of Jesus Christ, led by the Holy Spirit. How is our attitude today? Are we seeking to do justice, to love kindness, and are we walking humbly with our God? How can we let God adjust our attitude so we may be more like what He wants us to act in the world?