-By Pastor Mike Middaugh
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
You will recognize the quoted lines above as being the Beatitudes taught by Jesus. This famous teaching comes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. In the Beatitudes, which mean “saying of supreme blessedness”, Jesus lays out the norms of the Kingdom for his followers. From this teaching I think we can identify three false gospels of our culture (and our hearts) which may offer short term happiness, but will never bring eternal joy.
How many of us, if we are being honest, would not want more money? How many of us know that we truly have a lot, and yet still we wish for more? We are trained by our culture, and by the creeping greed of our hearts, to always want more and to never feel like we truly are rich. One reason for this is because we know how much some others have. There is always finer clothing in stores other people shop at, a nicer car parked in someone else’s driveway, or a larger house in pictures we have seen.
But the Beatitudes teach that true blessing is given to the content and to those poor in spirit. It is true that even the wealthy can be humble, even the rich can be meek, but often, the more we have, the more it consumes us. Blessed are the poor in spirit for they will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
How much of our time and money is spent on making sure we are comfortable? We may not have ever had to go without eating because there simply was no money, we may not have ever known what it means to not have a place to sleep. However, in many parts of the world, and for much of human history, basic needs are not always a given. By and large we are comfortable in a basic sense, and yet we often spend even more energy making sure every imaginable want is met to the point that our issue is overeating, over drinking and over-lounging to the deficit of our own health.
The promise of the kingdom is not that we will always know comfort now. We should never expect to get everything we want, this is true when it comes to sickness, disease and loss as well. There will be days that we struggle through this life. But the promise of the Beatitudes is that we are blessed by God as we look to him for help in the middle of discomfort. Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be comforted.
3. Power and Fame
True, power and fame could have been listed separately, but in our culture they are often connected. It has never been easier than today to become famous (think youtube and viral media), and there has also never been so much power wielded by so few. Power and fame are often the desires of our hearts. We want to rise to the top. We want to know we matter. We envy those who seem to have it all and who can control so much of this world.
Yet we follow one who is known for having nothing. The most famous man in all of history had no home, no bank account, no army, and no one by his side when he died. He became isolated and alone as he took the punishment for the evil in our hearts. He is well-known now, but for a time no one wanted to know him. We should expect that our lives might not be easy, that we might not be the envy of the world. But the promise of the Beatitudes is blessing to those who are meek, hope for those who are merciful, and joy for those who are peacemakers.
Blessed are those whose hope is in the Lord. True riches, true comfort and true power are found in him.