10 Mar 2005

The Beatitudes

Submitted by theshovel
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This was part of a response I had given to someone who asked about repeated calamities. Unfortunately, I don’t have any other part of the question, other than to tell you that it led me into these thoughts on the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes

I, likewise, understand the “repeated calamity” kind of life you mention with one thing happening after the other. Of course it’s all relative, for I consider myself to be doing pretty well considering some others I have witnessed. I have a long time friend (since 1978) who has gone through non-stop troubles since I’ve known him. The last big calamity happened as he walked by a large band saw where the blade must have gone slack and caught him by the hand - cutting off part of three fingers. The aftermath of getting treatment and sneaky employer was just as bad as the actual injury. So, just when I might be thinking my life is not so good I am reminded that I actually have it pretty well … even though some have considered me a less fortunate one. A few years ago my oldest daughter even gave me a serious talking to about what I was going to do with my life. She couldn’t believe I could be satisfied with where I was at, and I think she was a little embarrassed by my lack of “success” in the world. She has changed her opinion since then.

But who are the “fortunate” ones … really? You know, I think we have totally misread the words of Jesus when he first began what is called the “Sermon on the Mount”, and specifically, “The Beatitudes”. I think the main portion of the crowd was considered “losers” by the spiritual “elite” who came to find out what all the hubbub concerning this Jesus was all about. I think his opening words both baffled and thrilled the common people because they heard him speaking of who the truly fortunate ones were … and they never thought it could be THEMSELVES. But we have heard these words, not in their real sense, but in a religiously clean one. We think the “blessed are” somehow means that if we were to have the “qualities” in question we would then get blessed. But I don’t think Jesus spoke of any qualities, I think we have merely interpreted them this way. Here is the passage:

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 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. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ Matthew 5:1-12 NASB

Here are the so-called qualities with some commonly held MIS-interpretations:

* Poor in spirit
* Mourn
* Gentle (Meek)
* Hunger and thirst for righteousness
* Merciful
* Pure in heart
* Peacemakers
* Persecuted for the sake of righteousness
* Insulted and persecuted because of Jesus

Now, when we read these, some of them sound rather full of “good” qualities … but some of them don’t. We’ve helped some of them along to make them fit better. For example, instead of just being poor, we assume “poor in spirit” must be something we do to keep ourselves in some kind of “spiritual brokenness”. We also assume showing mercy must be a “good” thing, but was instead considered a stupid thing because it was often fatal not to stand up for oneself in an uncivilized world. What if these were not qualities at all, but instead descriptions normally reserved for “losers”? You see, Jesus did not proclaim some kind of “righteous attitudes” by which God would bless them, but was saying the same things later repeated by the likes of Paul and James.

Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the POOR of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the FOOLISH things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the WEAK things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the BASE things of the world and the DESPISED God has chosen, the things that ARE NOT, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Here’s how I think the people heard what Jesus said that day:

* Fortunate are those who have nothing, because the realm of God belongs to them.
* Fortunate are the heartbroken, because they shall be comforted.
* Fortunate are the walked upon, because the earth is their inheritance.
* Fortunate are those who are in need of righteousness, because they will be satisfied.
* Fortunate are those who fail to defend themselves, because they will be defended.
* Fortunate are the naive ones, because they will see God.
* Fortunate are the “Can’t we all just get along?” people of the world, because they will be called sons of God.
* Fortunate are those who have been mistreated for doing something right, because the realm of God belongs to them.
* Fortunate also are you who catch hell from all sides because of me.

New Testament: 

Comments

Jim,
I found this scripture to post up:

Luke12:

"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."

As I read this, I thought to myself: This sure sounds like the Lord was simply comforting them with something they simply could not understand at that time. In a very real way, I hear Him quite possibly proclaiming the new NEW mind to them here.[the God of all comfort] I don't think it was possible for them at this point NOT to worry. For they did not have this mind in themselves as of yet. Nonetheless I see Him STILL speaking Life and Love to them in this passage. Again did they understand the WORDS? Yeah probably but, they did not have it in themselves nor could they come to "see it" until the Living One came to be in and with them forever. I think they and WE come to see this in a real and living way as we struggle here in our mortal bodies in this world..Did they or we know how this always pans out so to speak? No, not in any true sense but, we just know what He said and what He continues to show to be true for us.
In speculating through the flesh we can come up with all sorts of "reasonable" arguments for or against this passage but, it all adds up to fear and down right junk.[wood, hay..] No this speaks to us...in a very real and living way of God's Love for those He created as I see it at this moment.Do you as well?

theshovel's picture

The downtrodden, the poor, and the outcasts to whom this was spoken rejoiced in these words because it suggested that there was so much more than what seemed to be their place in life. Even now it tells us that despite everything our eyes would demand God's blessing is not restricted by our circumstances.

Jim

"...despite everything our eyes would demand, God's blessing is not restricted by our circumstances" Jim/theShovel

also very encouraging to me today is the part where you talked about there being soooo much MORE than what 'seems' to be our 'place' in this world and life. Christ has made us sooo much more than we sometimes realize and so much more than we often 'see' while in the midst of all this temporal. our 'vision' gets muddied by all that we are overwhelmed with and by ... circumstances, situations, etc.

peering through reasoning that is sourced in the mind of man without god will always disappoint and discourage and fall short, ... but god! :)

i thank god for the miraculous spirit of christ in man who is ALL the difference and makes US all the difference 'in the midst' of and 'despite' all the temporal that is around us and is no longer of us or us of it.

:)

thank you for your encouragement!

dignz

To all my brothers & sisters in Christ greetings!To all avid gardeners of the realm & (not so avid as well) it occurs to me that this story may hold a gem of thought or two.Let me recount my experience of several weeks ago.I set about to mow my father’s yard with my dad’s Sear’s Craftman 40 inch cut riding lawnmower with the deck plate set to an approximate 2 inch cut height.Mowing as is my habit- I scoured the area for (yep,you guessed it- WEEDS)& lo and behold I found one.I believe it is called a “Thornapple” . It was 10 to 12 inches tall and thriving where everything else had died (due to the commercial grade Roundup the fence perimeter had been thoroughly doused with ). Imagine my surprise that this prickly monstrosity was not only growing,but thriving!I quickly determined the “beast” had to go;so,I got as close as I could to fence(4’ chainlength ) while revving the engine to maximum overdrive and downshifting to a slow speed.Then I drove over the plant (nothing happened) it was still there.My consternation grew as I repeatedly tried to mow this contraption down to no avail.Only by removing it root & all did I prevail(mind weeds too).It is so vitally important to maintain my perception of the True & Living God as He truly is and my true reality & identity in Him .He is The Vine and I am a Branch and I cannot exist without Him.I MUST EVER BE ON GAURD FORMIND WEEDS“:trains of erroneous,misunderstood or just downright lies someone tells me or in ignorance tell myself.The greatest “mind weed” Satan tries to implant in believer’s mind is the idea : I will be worthy if ……….(fill in the blank with whatever you decide creates worthiness); it is a sham , a bamboozle , a falsehood that anything other than Jesus Christ makes us (believer’s) worthy.He is our righteousness and our Life.You who are worthy (believer’s) stand justified,sanctified,glorified in The True Vine and do not doubt that Christ truly is “Author & Finisher ” of our faith.Praise God for our life in HIM.Amen!!!! Telestei!!!
theshovel's picture

Thanks for your pernicious plant story. I can see you tackling that thing. LOL! Your friend, Jim :)

I read the beatituted backwards, and it made sense. For example: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ Those who have the kingdom, are, for that reason, poor in spirit. For only the flesh claims to have this or that, but we have all, and therefore, covet after nothing and are comparing ourselves with no one, which only those that think themselves rich in comparison with others do.

That is, what I wanted to say in my previous post is that these ‘qualities’ are not something on the basis of which God supposedly blesses, but are the very character that proceeds on the basis of God’s blessing. Those that have these are blesseed, for in response to that blessing (whether they know it or not) they have them. And for this reason the flesh considers these things stupid, because it cannot see God in them.
theshovel's picture

Hello my friend,
Thanks for popping in with this excellent encouragement about how those who have these things are actually blessed by God. :)
Jim

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