Summary: A sermon on the beatitudes.
“Turning the World Right Side Up”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN www.eastridge umc.com
There’s an old movie about the first test pilots to break the sound barrier.
No plane had ever flown faster than the speed of sound, and lots of people didn’t think it was possible.
Some folks thought the plane would disintegrate, and in the movie this happened as the controls refused to work properly once the plane came to the sound barrier.
Finally, in the movie, one pilot figured out what to do.
It seemed that when the plane broke the sound barrier the controls started to work backwards…
Pulling the stick to make the plane bring its nose up sent it down instead.
So at the critical moment, instead of pulling the stick back the pilot pushed it forwards.
That would normally send the plane into a dive, but his hunch had been correct!
The nose came up, and the plane flew on, fast and free, faster than anyone had ever travelled before!
This story is not historically accurate.
I’m told that Chuck Yeager, the first human to move faster than the speed of sound in real life, was often asked whether he’d done it the way it was shown in the movie, but it wasn’t like that.
But, the story does help to illustrate what Jesus is doing in our Gospel Lesson for this morning.
He’s taking the controls and making them work in the opposite way!!!
Jesus is taking the world through the sound barrier, in a sense, --taking us somewhere we have never been before!!!
And just like a plane makes a loud “boom” when it goes through the sound barrier—this is a good picture of the effect Jesus has on the lives of people.
Jesus changes everything radically!
And we find that the way we’ve been doing things…
…well, in reality…
…even though they may have seemed right…
…they were backward and wrong!
This is an upside down world we live in, and Jesus turns it right side up!!!
And Jesus’ Words are not just good advice.
Christianity is not a scheme to reduce stress, lose weight, advance your career, or keep you from illness.
No, the Gospel does not mean “good advice” or “self-help”; it means “Good News!!!”
And the Good News is that the Kingdom of God has come in Jesus Christ.
God is at work in our world in a fresh way, and THIS is what it looks like!!!
From here on, all the controls on the instrument panels people thought they knew about are going to work the other way around!!!
In our world, many people think that wonderful news is about success, wealth, long life, and victory in battle.
Jesus is saying something completely opposite!!!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit…
…Blessed are those who mourn…
…Blessed are the meek…
…Blessed are the merciful…
…the pure in heart; the peacemakers.”
Many of us have probably grown up calling these verses “the Beatitudes.”
If you take a look at the heading in your Bible, that’s probably what it says as well.
But, Beatitude doesn’t really mean, like, these are good attitudes…
…although, they are.
The word Beatitude comes from the Latin word “beatus” which means “blessed.”
So how and why are the “poor in spirit” and the “merciful” blessed?
Because of Jesus!!!
Jesus is God with us, and these Words are a promise of wonderful news!
Are you feeling down and defeated?
Take heart—Jesus is there with you.
Believe this, and yours is the kingdom of heaven!!!
You will be comforted.
You will inherit the earth.
You will be filled with righteousness.
You will be shown mercy.
You will be called sons and daughters of God.
You will see God!!!
And when do these promises come true?
When do we inherit the Kingdom of heaven?
There is a great temptation for us Christians to answer: “only after I die.”
This, though, is a misunderstanding of the full meaning of heaven.
For heaven is God’s space, where true reality exists, side by side our earthly reality—interlocking with it!!!
Yes, one day heaven and earth will be literally joined together.
But remember that we are to pray that God’s kingdom will come, and God’s will be done, “on earth as it is in heaven.”
The life of heaven—the life of the SPACE where God is already KING becomes part of our world when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and put our full trust in Him!!!
Those who follow Jesus are to start to live by God’s rule, in God’s Space, here and now!!!
That’s the point of the Sermon on the Mount and these “beatitudes” in particular!!!!
They call us to live in the present in the way that will make sense in God’s promised future; because the future has already arrived in the present in Jesus Christ!!!