When Jesus addresses those who are persecuted, many questions may come to mind: Who is he referring to? We live in a country that tries to promote religious freedom, so is this even relevant to me? Is this a get-out-of-jail-free card for religious fanatics? What could persecution in Washington, DC look like? Am I doing something wrong if I’m a Christian and I never face any opposition for my faith? And how can Jesus dare to tell those who are suffering to “rejoice”? With this strange beatitude, Jesus answers these questions and prepares his followers for persecution.
The other Beatitudes don’t seem as ‘necessary’ as this one: Blessed are the Peacemakers. We don’t have to look to far to see horrific conflict in the world, arguments on our city streets, tension in our relationships with family and friends. The need for peace is obvious. How then do we move forward?
Study Guide:08.30.09 The Beatitudes: Give Peace A Chance
This beatitude may be the most uncomfortable to read. Immediately we feel vulnerable. Who of us would claim to be pure? Who can see God without being seen themselves? Yet, Jesus doesn’t pronounce this word as woe, but rather as a blessing. Happy are the pure in heart.
Study Guide:08.23.09 The Beatitudes: A See-Through Heart
When Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” he doesn’t give a necessary condition for receiving God’s mercy, but he does give a necessary consequence of it. If someone lacks the impulse and actions to show mercy they have missed something essential about the Christian gospel. What does Mercy involve? Who really are the merciful?
Study Guide: 08.16.09 The Beatitudes: Who Gets Mercy?
In a challenging economy and competitive job market, literature on how to promote yourself abounds. Some of the literature is good, however, plenty of it is suspect: “promote yourself without looking like you’re promoting yourself”, etc. In this third beatitude Jesus basically teaches the polar opposite: Blessed are the meek (those who do NOT promote themselves). How does this make sense?
Study Guide: 07.26.09 The Beautitudes: To Promote Or Not To Promote
Usually this Beatitude (“blessed are they that mourn”), is most often found in the sympathy section on the card racks. While God has a special zeal to comfort his children in their losses, the verse belongs in the ‘repentance’ section rather than the sympathy section- for it describes mourning over moral and spiritual failure primarily. What does that look like?
Study Guide: 07.19.09 The Beatitudes: Happy are the Unhappy
Every person, culture, city, or family has their own set of Beatitudes—some understanding of the kind of person God especially smiles upon. Jesus challenges our assumptions and values as he describes the sort of person that is truly “blessed.” Where does he start? With the “poor in spirit.” Who does that refer to? Why is it so hard to be that way? What does Jesus promise such people? Jesus teaches us a lot with a few words, but in many ways his teaching boils down to a surprising but most freeing message: God loves the weak.
Study Guide: 07.12.09 Beatitudes: Poor In Spirit
In recent years there has been a rising interest in “happiness”. University psychology departments offering courses on “happiness”, books being written on the topic, conferences held among professionals. The interest flows from a new approach in psychology called “Positive Psychology”, and raises, among many things, the question of how to become happy. In Matthew 5, a section called the Beatitudes (Latin for “blessed” or “happy”), Jesus gives us his theory of happiness.
Study Guide: 07.05.09 The Beatitudes: Shiny Happy People