Summary: The be-attitudes are for every disciple of Christ to aspire to.
The Discipleship Attitudes
For the last two weeks we have been looking at the topic of discipleship. Jesus called 4 fishermen to follow Him, and as they grew to know Christ and His ways, He transformed their lives into fishers of men. Shortly after this account of Jesus calling his disciples into a deeper commitment, large crowds began to follow Jesus. Seeing the crowds Jesus climbed to the highest point he could find and sat down. When His disciples had seen that he had withdrawn to this hillside, they followed him and he began to teach them.
Some have called these the BE-ATTITUDES. This comes from a Latin phrase which means perfect blessedness or happiness. Because of this some have described these statements of Christ as the way to happiness, but the word” Blessed” means so much more than what we normally think of when we think of happiness. It means to live a life of blessing or fortune because you are living your life in step with God. It is the opposite of a cursed life. A blessed life is not always an easy life or a jovial life, but it is a life full of the strength and peace that comes from a right relationship with God and with man.
If the disciples were to truly follow Jesus, if they were to learn how to live as spiritual men in a material world, they would have to learn a new set of priorities. They would need to develop a new way of thinking and a new attitude about the world around them. They would need to live life God’s way, not the way of this world. And if they would make this journey with Jesus, these be-attitudes would provide them with the eternal blessings of the kingdom of heaven.
The challenge of this way of life is that it is so contrary to the life we have been taught.
Sami Dagher, one of our leading C&MA Pastor’s in the Middle East had been a maitre’d at the world famous Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut before Lebanon’s terrible civil war. Just before the war broke out he left the hotel to plant a small church in one of the poorest areas of the city. When he approached the hotel manager to inform him that he was resigning, the following dialog occurred:
"God has called me to preach," Sami told the manager. "I’m leaving the hotel."
"Leaving? You’re a fool! You’re crazy! A man in your position making good money, and you quit?"
"I leave for something more important than money. I’m going to preach the name of Jesus Christ."
"You’re going to give up this good position to preach for some god? You must be crazy. No! I’ll tell you the right thing to do. You stay here and make money, Sami. I need you."
"No, I can’t stay any longer. I’ve prayed and this is what I must do."
Then the hotel manager grew angry and shouted, "I curse you! One day, Sami Dagher, you will come to the threshold of my door, and you will beg for a crust of bread, and I won’t give it to you. I will let you starve! Do you hear my words? Not a crust!"
Quite sometime later, during some of the heaviest fighting of the war in Lebanon, Sami heard a knock at his door. It was late at night, so Sami told his wife and children to stay in bed. He answered the door himself. When he opened the door, the hotel manager stood before him.
"I couldn’t sleep," the man said. "I wanted to see how you are doing and talk."
Sami made coffee and they discussed the old days they enjoyed at the Phoenicia. Sami sensed the man had come for another reason, but the man wouldn’t say. Finally Sami said, "My friend, it is late. Why have you come to me?"
"Oh, nothing, Sami. I just wanted to talk of old times."
The man walked to the door and opened it. As he stood in the doorway with his head hung low, he turned to Sami and said, "I have no food. I have not eaten for two days. Do you have anything you could spare?"
The hotel manager had cursed Sami for following Christ, but Sami’s life had been blessed by the Lord. It had not always been easy, but Sami choose the way of Christ as a disciple. The hotel manager chose the way of this world, and it led him into eventual poverty of spirit and life.
These be-attitudes have been described in many ways. Some have described them as the worlds’ thinking turned upside down. Others have described them as steps towards peace with God and with man. I see in these statements a progression of our submission to God and the resulting expression of that relationship seen in our interaction with the people around us. Another way of saying this is to say that the first 4 attitudes describe the journey inward as I look at my heart in relationship to God, and the last 4 attitudes describe the journey outward as I relate to the people God has called me to reach.