For four years I’ve hoped to preach through the BeAtitudes, but each time I was close to preparing a series of these paradoxical principles, God shut the door. As I’m currently preaching through them now, I’m realizing that God was preparing me to live them before I could share them.
One of my favorite places to visit in Israel is the beautiful Mount of BeAtitudes. Like in my own heart, it is actually possible to appreciate the beauty without applying the truth. When you truly understand who God is and what God has done for you, it’s hard to imagine any reason why we wouldn’t live passionately for Him, using the challenges of our lives to daily engage others for Him.
But unfortunately for most of us, God needs to get our attention through a crisis. Thus, in the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus gave us an overview of what its like to experience unimaginable blessings by trusting God through the crisis of life. Sounds like a paradox. But, is that not that the case for every Christian living in this anti-God culture; it’s like Living Upside Down.
Consider other biblical paradoxes:
- “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways” (Isaiah 55:8)
- “Many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31)
- “Anyone who finds his life will lost it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 10:39)
- “These men have turned the world upside down…” (Acts 17:6)
Jesus gave us eight BeAtitudes which look a lot like living upside down. Different people react differently to circumstances in life, but every action we perform comes from an inner motive. A person who is living upside down, will run every opportunity thru a “Jesus first” filter. A person who lives upside down, defies the status quo. A person who is living upside down draws a watching world to experience Jesus.
The BeAtitudes are not for a novice believer but are for every believer. It’s about maturity not meditation. The BeAtitudes reveal the kind of person who is growing in Jesus:
- poor in spirit is a person who has a realistic view of spiritual condition;
- a saint in mourning knows how to identify with other people’s needs;
- the humble believer knows how undeserving they are of God’s love;
- a Christian who hungers for righteousness is pursuing kingdom goals;
- merciful believers gives other people the benefit of the doubt;
- disciples with a pure heart keep their motives in line with God’s heart;
- a follower of Christ lives at peace with the people around them;
- a persecuted Christian endures antagonism in order for others to be saved.
If you think that the BeAtitudes are moral principles – that if followed, assure you of going to heaven when you die – nothing could be farther from the truth.
We can’t isolate just one verse. We must consider them as a whole and let them stand on their proper foundation – Jesus Christ. These principles will not result in blessedness – apart from Jesus. Happiness is circumstance-based. Blessedness is Christ-based. Happiness fluctuates with circumstances; but blessedness remains unaffected by circumstances.
Among Christians, it’s not unusual to hear saints declare: “God is good!” regardless of the circumstances. Similarly, Jesus used the adjective “blessed” in the BeAtitudes in a way that could be translated, “the blessedness of…” Jesus didn’t speak the BeAtitudes in Greek, but in Aramaic, a language spoken by the people there that day. Aramaic has a common expression, “Oh the blessedness of!” It’s as if Jesus was saying, “Oh the blessedness of those who are these things that I’m about to list!”
Jesus aimed His sermon at hearts of everyday people. Jesus taught in a way that everyone can relate to, and His teachings relate to everyone. The life and ministry of Jesus appeals to every person. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
I invite you to look at them intently, learn them intentionally, and live them out insistently.
Click here to listen to the Living Upside Down sermon series podcasts.