Human Nature and Hot Air Balloons
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:7-9
My family recently had the opportunity to go for a hot air balloon ride, which excited three of us, but which evoked a panic response from my wife who is afraid of heights. She didn’t want to go because of this natural fear, but at the request from our daughter, who simply didn’t want to go without her, my wife overcame that fear. Because of her love of family, my wife did what was completely unnatural, and saved the day. It was, of course, an amazing experience.
Not all of our natural tendencies, impulses, and appetites must be denied. We have healthy, appropriate behaviors that keep us from harm. We know not to put our hand on a hot stove. Unfortunately, many of our natural behaviors though are counterproductive to the life we want to live. This isn’t just about fear of heights. This is about pride, selfishness, greed, and me first. In theory, we want to follow God and love others, but in reality, we just want to live for ourselves.
In today’s passage, Jesus described a way of life that is completely counterintuitive to our nature. Jesus insisted that if we want to live the blessed life, knowing God and experiencing his kingdom, then we must embrace meekness, humility, purity and peace.
Some are naturally meek and humble, but most of us naturally place our own will above all. It’s simply not instinctual for us to put the needs of others before our own. It’s not our normal character to desire that which is healthy and pure. We have a natural appetite for the self-destructive. We don’t inherently like broccoli. We like sugar and fat. We don’t naturally love serving others. We prefer serving ourselves.
If we want to know authentic life here and now though, then Jesus said we must learn to abandon our path for his. Just as it wasn’t natural for my wife to climb into that balloon basket, it isn’t natural for us to live selflessly. If we truly want to know life, faith and recovery though, we must learn to daily sacrifice our natural tendencies to embrace Christ’s unnatural way of doing things.