“A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished to one unacquainted with it by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong side out and saying, ‘Here is your human race!’ For the exact opposite of the virtues in the Beatitudes are the very qualities which distinguish human life and conduct.” -A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.
The Beatitudes…Blessed are the…what? I can’t remember; a sure sign Tozer pinpointed the problem with humanity.
I reached for my Bible; the Message version on my nightstand.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.” (Matthew 5:3-10)
Yep, sounds like the opposite of societal values today, and apparently values in 1949 as well (why hasn’t anything changed?).
I continued reading Tozer, but his opening words tumbled around in my head…the values of the world are the beatitudes turned inside out. I set down my book and returned to Matthew 5.
I read the Beatitudes again, and then again the next day, and the next. This passage held my answers…How to be in, but not of, the world, how to live the life God intended…how to be full of joy. But I couldn’t quite grasp them.
I struggled with the Beatitudes being a list of character traits, not an action plan. My “how to” questions answered by “be” statements: be humble, sensitive, meek, obedient, compassionate, holy, peaceful, and committed.
The “be” throws me off. Jesus, can’t I have a to-do list instead of a to-be list?
But God does not desire a checked off to-do list. He yearns for salt of the earth and light in a dark world.
So as I continue on my journey to a joyful life, a stop at the characteristics of kingdom citizens seems necessary.
Mararios, the Greek word for “blessed” means happy. David Guzik clarifies, “[happy] in the truest, godly sense of the word, not in our modern sense of merely being comfortable or entertained at the moment.” Blessed = godly happiness…joy.
I marvel at how God works; I ask for more joy and He guides me to the Beatitudes.
Over the next several months I will explore the Beatitudes with the goal of learning how to live right side up in an upside down world…a world that desperately needs more salt and light.
Will you join me?
*See all Beatitudes posts here.
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