January 19, 2024

Beatitudes: An Invitation to Live Different in 2024

In the first four beatitudes, Jesus invites you to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, and to hunger and thirst for righteousness, which may leave you thinking, wait, what? But we can explain.

In this episode, Whit and Casey explore meme culture, Old Testament references, and the qualities of a Kingdom seeker.

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The Sermon on the Mount starts with the beatitudes, or the “blessed” statements. Jesus is saying, you’ll flourish when you live this way.

The beatitudes specifically include this word blessed, but the whole sermon is about the same thing. Like the Proverbs do, it offers a way of being in the world that will produce flourishing.

Jesus is the perfect person to give this message as He is the fullest expression of what a human being could be. He is the very embodiment of what he’s teaching, an ideal humanity held up. Our job is not to live up to his standard, but to live into it. Our response to his teaching is to want to demonstrate his character and seek his Kingdom.

Things to keep in mind when reading the beatitudes:

Let’s look at the first four beatitudes:

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

The foundation of a flourishing life begins with recognizing our spiritual poverty before God.

A poverty of spirit is a recognition that before God, you have nothing to offer and an acceptance that you have a profound inability to save yourself in your own capacity.

This is the entrance to the Kingdom of heaven. This acknowledgment is not a condemnation but an invitation to never lose the wonder of salvation.

We’re all in the process of becoming someone, and we have an unlimited capacity for self- deception. But if you ask Him, God will show you what’s in your heart. Consider not just the sin you’ve committed but the sin you’re capable of.

What would your life be like if you grew up in a different family, time, or place? What could you be capable of, given the right conditions?

The good news can’t be good unless the bad news is bad. Salvation becomes truly beautiful when we grasp the gravity of our spiritual condition, making us perfect candidates for the redemptive power of God.

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

Upon recognizing our spiritual poverty, mourning follows – mourning for our own condition and the reality of sin.

Part of the invitation to mourn is to face reality. It’s easier than ever to fill our lives with noise so that we don’t have to face what’s really going on. We’re quick to pick up the phone and start scrolling, turn on the TV, online shop, or whatever else we can do to distract ourselves.

People’s approach to life is often, life is hard, so why shouldn’t I do everything I can to make it easier? But a pathway to a deeper kind of joy is through mourning, because there you can find true comfort.

It may sound counterintuitive, but until you consider the reality of life you can’t appreciate the reality of what Jesus is offering.

This mourning is not meant to leave us in despair but to lead us to the feet of the One who can bring comfort. It calls us to face the consequences of our actions, individually and collectively.

Too many people have settled for a Jesus who only deals with the trivial, small things, but the invitation is to so much more than that. By embracing the mourning process, we open ourselves to a deeper joy rooted in the reality of what Jesus offers.

Practice:

Next time you find yourself subconsciously reaching for your phone, or any other distraction, take a second to check in and ask yourself some questions.

Enter into a space with God about what’s really going on in your heart.

3. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

In a world where evil seems to prosper, the call to meekness is a counterintuitive invitation to continue obedience to the Lord regardless of the outcome.

The meek person is someone who humbly submits to the will of God, trusting that He’s going to act. Jesus was the embodiment of meekness in the garden of gethsemane when He prayed,“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). People who are meek are receiving the kingdom instead of taking it for themselves.

In Matthew 26, we see Peter taking matters into his own hands when he cut off the ear of the high priest as Jesus was arrested. Jesus again shows us what it means to live in complete submission to God when He tells Peter, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53-54).

God can’t use someone who isn’t willing to submit. The fear is often, if I submit, I’m going to lose. They’re going to end up with what was meant for me because I didn’t take it for myself.

The promise is by submitting to the will of God, He will give you what you would have asked for had you seen everything God sees. It’s not a passivity. It’s a call to do what is good and right and trusting God with the outcome.

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

Righteousness can be understood in three dimensions: legal, moral, and social.

We often long for things that won’t satisfy us. This call to righteousness challenges us to reevaluate our desires, aligning them with God’s vision for a flourishing world. It calls us to actively oppose evil, embodying righteousness in both spiritual and practical aspects of life.

The first four Beatitudes start to lay a foundation for a flourishing life rooted in spiritual awareness, mourning the reality of sin, submission to God, and a pursuit of righteousness. As we navigate the complexities of life, these teachings guide us towards a deeper understanding of the Kingdom of God and a flourishing existence.

Show notes:

Check out the message: How to Be a Kingdom Seeker

In this episode, they the following books:

Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower

Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

 

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