We are kicking off the summer at White Oak with an eight-week series for our weekly worship services looking at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. I remember the theme of a week of Vacation Bible School at church when I was a kid. It was called The Beatitude Attitudes. Clever, right? I can even hear some of the songs we sang resounding in my head from all those years ago! And for a kid, that was probably an appropriate way to convey Jesus’s teaching. For adults, however, there are aspects of this teaching that differ greatly from that VBS curriculum from my childhood.
Jesus begins his sermon talking about God’s blessing (the word, Beatitude, is Latin for “a state of blessedness”). There are a couple of things that are critical to point out when it comes to God’s blessing in your life. Take a minute to read Matthew 5:1-12.
First, the list Jesus gives is a descriptor of one type of person. This list is meant to be taken as a whole. The sum of these parts makes up a person who is receptive of God’s Kingdom and Jesus’s message. These are not individual characteristics. We don’t read the Beatitudes and say, “I think I’ll work on peace-making this year since that is an area that needs work in my life.” That may be true, but that’s not what Jesus is suggesting. This isn’t a self-improvement list. Each of these statements – the next building upon the ones that come before it -- describes the heart of a person who is more and more in tune to God’s movement and presence. The state of their blessing is received in the state of their heart.
Meditate weekly on Matthew 5:1-12. Ask God to make you aware of his presence. Where do you need to shift some of your prayers from being about what you want and begin to include prayers asking God to do in you what he wants?
Second, these blessings are spiritual rewards. We tend to describe many things in our lives as blessings. Family, jobs, relationships, finances, things that work out the way we want them to. These are certainly good things and many of them are gifts from God for us to enjoy! However, when the Bible (in particular, Jesus) talks about God’s blessings, these things don’t make the list. A state of blessedness is revealed in a Christian’s life when he or she finds himself in a posture which Jesus describes in Matthew 5. These are heart-postures. And the rewards are not physical. They are spiritual realities and rewards which our hearts are awakened to.
When you ask for God’s blessing be sure to check your heart. That’s where you’ll discover his best work is being done.
Thirdly, the blessing we receive is not just about us. The Beatitudes are a radically bold statement of Jesus' intent to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth which will bring true peace and freedom for all who dare to follow him as his disciples. It is through those disciples that his kingdom will bring blessing to all the peoples of the earth. That person is totally surrendered to God and each action of that person reflects on the character of God as he or she leans into God to give him glory in every circumstance.
The blessing of the Beatitudes is less about what we receive as compensation for a life well lived. It’s more about what we have already received in God himself. He’s promised us an eternal inheritance. He’s already humbled himself on the cross for us. He’s gifted us with his everlasting comfort. Jesus came to earth to live among us to show us the way to his peace. You see, you’re blessed when you see Jesus for who he really is. You’re blessed when you receive from Jesus what he came to give you. You’re blessed when you recognize God’s movement now and trust in his promise for eternity. You’re blessed when you surrender your life to Jesus.
May our hearts take on this posture more and more as we study Matthew 5 this summer. That’s my prayer.
Blessings to you!
White Oak Christian Church