Counter the Conventional - Man as Instructor

“You have heard that it was said to those of old…. But I say to you…” - Matthew 5:21-22

Sometimes you have to go against the conventional wisdom. That is certainly true at times in military operations. During the War of 1812, our second war of independence from Great Britain, the American cause was hanging by a thread. Fresh off their victory over Napoleon at Waterloo, thousands of British troops sailed to America, poured into Virginia and Maryland, ran President Madison out of D.C., burned the U.S. Capitol building, and set fire to the White House. If it hadn’t been for the hand of God through a hurricane, we would be under British rule…but that’s a story for another day.

Blown out of DC, the British then set their sights on Baltimore, dubbed a “nest of pirates” because they were so successful at attacking and taking British warships. The British formulated a three-pronged plan of attack: 1) bomb Fort McHenry from warships in the harbor; 2) launch a nighttime amphibious assault on the fort; and 3) stage an attack from the right flank led by General Robert Ross, fresh off his successful campaign to take and burn America’s capital. Ross commanded nearly 5,000 British soldiers and marines.
Seeing the British army advance, American General John Stricker immediately realized that he was outnumbered, outgunned, and completely outmatched. So, he decided on a plan that ran completely counter to conventional wisdom. He planned to attack! In the 
Battle of North Point, Stricker pre-positioned snipers with Kentucky rifles to take out British commanders, and one of the first to fall was General Ross. When Stricker’s American forces engaged the British regiments, the new commanding officer was not up to the task. The British took on casualties and halted their advance. From all appearances, Stricker’s counterintuitive attack plan ought to have had little to no chance of success, but in the end, a far superior British force ended up retreating to their ships. Fort McHenry held out from all the “rockets’ red glare” and the “bombs bursting in air” and, in the end, “our flag was still there.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus announced an even more radical plan of engagement with the world. Just look at the Beatitudes, and you will see very quickly that everything He said runs counter to the world’s way of thinking.
The world says… But Jesus says…
Be proud and confident in self-sufficiency Be poor in spirit (v. 3)
Celebrate sin Be mournful over sin (v. 4)
Exert your strength Be meek (v. 5)
Feed your flesh’s appetites Be hungry and thirsty for righteousness (v. 6)
Show no mercy Be merciful (v. 7)
Be shrewd, even deceptive, to get ahead Be pure in heart (v. 8)
Disrupt and divide Be a peacemaker (v. 9)
Seek the approval of others  Be willing to endure persecution (v. 10)

Jesus’ radical strategy of deploying disciples who behave in ways diametrically opposed to how the culture behaves doesn’t make much sense from the world’s perspective. But at the end of the day, Jesus and His countercultural values will win. As Instructors, let’s attempt to live them out with God’s help and teach them to our family and friends. Although these values might seem radical now, they will be the rule in the coming Kingdom.
- Which of the Beatitudes is the most challenging to you? What can you do to make some progress toward that particular Kingdom attitude and behavior?
- How can you better model and teach these countercultural values from the Beatitudes?
- Ask God to help you give up the world’s ways and adopt Jesus’ ways.