A heroic Christian life is made up of little things. The big things, like following the Ten Commandments, are pretty easy.
I go to church most Sundays (Commandment 3). I honor my father and mother (Commandment 4). So far, I haven’t murdered anybody (Commandment 5).
As self-assessments go, that is pretty simple. Most of us can render such a good account.
The Christian life aims for both deeper engagement and deeper examination. Jesus was teaching this in the Beatitudes. The faith life that Jesus imagines and teaches is a life made up of little things: daily kindness that is deep in our bones; the ability to have compassion for all life around us; willingness to give deeply from our own life for the benefit of others.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus blesses the small things and the small actions that demonstrate a life of faith and a real life of love for the world and all that is in it. He blesses the poor in spirit, the mournful, and the meek. These are traits not of heroes, but of the rest of us.
He blesses a life of hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart. These are the cravings of a God-directed life. We want these things not only for ourselves, but for all those around us.
Jesus blesses a life of peacemaking, persecution, and rejection. He knows from expectation and experience that the world will react to a holy life with hostility.
Jesus’ hope, and the hope of Beatitude-style Christians, is that the world can and will change. That change comes when the examples of Christians living the little things shows that such change is possible.
Hungry people are fed. Sick people become healthy. We have enough beauty within us to appreciate the sunset, the kitten, the cute baby. When we pay attention to our own little things, we see the little things in the lives of others that bless us.
We also see the little things in others’ lives that block them from blessing and being a blessing. That’s when we hope for two things.
First, we hope that our lives show a good example. Second, we practice enough compassion to lighten their lives. Words probably won’t be necessary. Leave the enlightenment to Jesus.
The real blessing of a faith made up of little things is that it becomes habitual. You pick something small, offer it as an expression of God’s love, and God blesses it.
Move on. Pick something else. Repeat the process.
Action by action, piece by piece, the Christian life takes its hold on you.
Action by action, piece by piece, the holy realm of Jesus Christ grows in the world.