Summary: In the 1600s, the brilliant French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic theologian, Blaise Pascal, wrote, “Everyone, without exception, is searching for happiness." An article I read listed seven habits of chronically unhappy people....
In the 1600s, the brilliant French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic theologian, Blaise Pascal, wrote, “Everyone, without exception, is searching for happiness."
An article I read listed seven habits of chronically unhappy people.
*A default belief that life is hard. “Unhappy people see themselves as victims of life… versus finding a way through and out the other side.”
*A belief that most people can’t be trusted. This closes “the door on any connection outside of an inner-circle and thwarts all chances of meeting new friends.
*A concentration on what is wrong in this world rather than what is right. “…Unhappy people turn a blind eye to what’s actually right in this world and instead focus on what’s wrong.”
*Comparing oneself to others and harboring jealousy.
*Striving to Control your life. “Unhappy people tend to micromanage in effort to control all outcomes and fall apart in dramatic display when life throws a wrench in their plan.”
*Considering the future with worry and fear. “Unhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right.”
*Filling conversations with gossip and complaints.
We’ve probably all had those kinds of thoughts. Our text today has eight statements about happiness or being blessed that we should allow to become our guides for our own search for happiness. The Beatitudes are some of the most profound statements ever recorded. They are often quoted 2,000 years since Jesus spoke them - even by the nonreligious. Here Jesus tells us of the kind of happiness we can experience in Jesus Christ.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Can we find happiness? This text affirms we can.
1. WE CAN FIND HAPPINESS BECAUSE IT IS PROMISED
Happiness is such a vague term. What does it mean? George Burns: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” We need to know what Jesus is telling us when he says that those who follow his teachings are “blessed”.
According to Rubel Shelly in Happiness Is … “The word ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’ is translated from a Greek word (makarios) which was used originally to describe the state of the gods as opposed to that of mere mortals. The Greeks also used a form of the same word to refer to Cyprus (he makaria), ‘the Happy Isle.’ They believed Cyprus to be so lovely and fertile a place that a man could find happiness enough there so he would never want to leave it.”
The happiness that Jesus promises in the Beatitudes is of Divine origin and therefore cannot be bought, produced, or packaged. It is an inner state that comes from a commitment to following the path of our Master, Jesus. Living the life to which He has called us gives us a \happiness that isn’t human in origin. It comes from God, so yes, we can find happiness.
2. WE CAN FIND HAPPINESS BECAUSE IT IS FOR EVERYONE
Randy Harris, in Living Jesus, wrote, "The people on the mountain that day were occupied by a foreign country. Many of them were poor. They were the marginalized people of society. And Jesus wanted them to know from the very beginning that God loved them, and they were blessed by God because the rest of the world told them that they were throw away people…"
When you look at the people Jesus addresses, you can see that they were the “throw away people” according to society. As always Jesus is drawn to the hurting, struggling, unsure they’re going to make it. Brennan Manning wrote The Ragamuffin Gospel "for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out," the marginalized folks to whom Jesus ministered: the children, the ill, the tax collectors... Sometimes we may believe that we are not good enough for God or that we’ve made too many mistakes. Jesus looks at the strugglers around him and offers blessing…tells them they can live in happiness in spite of their pain.