Summary: As Christians, we are also on a mission-a mission from God. That mission is expressed throughout the Bible, including the Beatitudes. This mission statement is a rulebook or a map for our Christian life. The Beatitudes are the good news of grace.
Those of you who have watched TV crime shows such as “CSI” or “Columbo” know that the main character is always on a mission-namely, to solve a crime. Also, anyone who has gone on a trip has also been on a mission-namely, to get to their destination.
As Christians, we are also on a mission-a mission from God. That mission is expressed throughout the Bible, including the Beatitudes, which we heard in Matthew’s Gospel reading this morning. This mission statement is a rulebook or a map for our Christian life. The Beatitudes are the good news of transforming grace.
The Beatitudes are the start of the Sermon on the Mount, which we will hear in our gospel readings for the next several weeks. The Beatitudes put the demands of the Sermon in focus by starting it with a proclamation of grace. The Beatitudes tell us that we are to lead exemplary lives. Those who lead such lives will receive God’s blessings. In return, they recognize God as the source of this blessing
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor and the pure.” Was he recommending poverty and piousness? I don’t think so. He was advising recognition of need and singleness of heart. He was saying to those who have nothing and those who have everything: “You have spiritual needs that things will never satisfy”. He was saying that no person can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money. He was saying that we are blessed to be a blessing to others. It would be a great day in out Christian faith if we brought all our possessions and all the things that we have under the leadership of Jesus Christ. Is that not our call? Our possessions are a blessing from God.
The TV show, “The Apprentice” is a reality show that shows how things are in the business world. It has the flamboyant billionaire Donald Trump. One of the reasons why the show is so popular is because it DOES have Donald Trump, and people are curious about the rich and famous. There are also the crazy challenging tasks the contestants are supposed to do, such as selling lemonade on the streets of Manhattan. What we see in the show is no different from what we see in the real world today. We work where, like the show, there is a lot of in-fighting among ambitious rivals. When you see men bullying women on the show, that’s often how it is at work. And, again, like the show, some women use sex appeal to get ahead. They say, in effect, “Hey, whatever works”.
The Beatitudes might seem to be out of touch with the reality of our modern world. They seem to be out of touch because they go against things that the world sees as important-power, wealth, ruthless, oppression and greed. I can picture Donald Trump assigning the young entrepreneurs the task of coming up with a list of beatitudes for the “real world”. They would probably look like this: “Blessed are the rich and famous, for they shall have what they want. Blessed are the powerful, for their will shall be done. Blessed are the strong and young for they shall draw a lot of attention to themselves. Blessed are the white and well educated for they shall own the earth”.
It should be no surprise that Jesus emphasizes things that are the exact opposite-meekness, humility, poverty in spirit, care and compassion. Jesus set the example for us to follow by always challenging the status quo. The radical ideas he and the disciples supported led to persecution and death, and Christians today who support the same ideas today must be prepared to face similar discrimination today. Nevertheless, God stands with those who follow the Christian life will have the support and blessing of Christ.
The Beatitudes are more than just good principles to live by. They are God’s way to get us to think of more than what goes on around us and within us. God uses the Beatitudes to give us more than we are capable of appreciating, and to ask more than we think we are capable of doing. The Beatitudes are God’s way of speaking to us now on what he wants us to know.
Matthew’s version of the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ “Inaugural Address” in which he lays out his vision of life in the kingdom of heaven. The Beatitudes are ethical principles that describe how things will be reversed in the kingdom. It is a serious risk to be merciful, to keep one’s heart pure, and to make peace with one’s enemies. The greater risk is to confuse privilege and self-protection with the good life. When we come to God with empty hands, bow down before the throne of grace, and are ready to receive whatever blessing God chooses, we will be blessed. When we empty ourselves before God, he fills us with whatever we need.