Beattitude Attitudes

Unless I miss my guess, the words of the Beattitudes have long played a leading role in our personal landscapes.  For me, these words adorned a plaque in my childhood bedroom, reminding me of the values by which blessing is understood. We have been encouraged to "have a beattiude attitude", counting our blessings outside the circumstances of our real lives and their real problems. While these are all no doubt good ways to consider our world of blessing, I can't  help but think that there is more going on than just a wise life lesson to the faithful that Jesus is addressing.

For Matthew, these are actually among the first words of teaching that Jesus articulates in his telling of the Gospel story.  He has been born, baptized, tempted, and called disciples. But to this point any teaching that he had done has gone broadly unreported by the writter.  So why make these the first words about what it means to be a disciple of this new teacher?  What could that mean for us?  I think it is significant that this is the starting place for the disciples-- knowing that you are blessed.   Because owning our identity as children of God is often the first stp in following where Christ leads.

Which is why it is necessary for Jesus to articulate a new sense of blessing that defies that of the world.  We know how the  world draws out blessing.  It alligns favour with those who are powerful, who know what they want and how to get it, who's needs are met by their own provision, those who are well liked and respected by all those around.  Perhaps, just perhaps, these words of teaching from Jesus were as much about preparing the disciples for the disappointing fact that when they were following him, they were going to be none of these things.  Instead, Jesus starts by defining what it means to be blessed in the Kingdom of God as something substantially different than what we are generally used to.  The work of the disciple isn't so much to earn credit in order to find blessing; we are already blessed, loved and known for all that we are in Christ, and that makes a huge difference.  Perhaps the beattitudes are not so much a prescription of how we SHOULD be as it is an acknowledgment of the working of God already being undertaken within us even in the midst of that which we do not fully understand, appreciate, or know what to do with?

How might we think about our world differently were we  to trust our blessed-ness in Christ, knowing that it is these kingdom values in which our value is defined, held and valued now and always?


Matthew 5:1-16  NRS Matthew 5:1 When Jesus1 saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.  2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:  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 receive 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 for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely1 on my account.  12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.  14 "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.