by Joel Lawler
"I have always wondered why people never want to put a stone monument of the Eight Beatitudes on the courthouse lawn." ~ Richard Rohr
When Jesus was here physically with us he traveled from town to town. There were a lot people following him. They were intrigued by the miracles he performed and his teaching. He climbed up on a hillside and taught what we call the Beatitudes.
"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.
"Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!--for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble."
This was taken from the Message Paraphrase by Eugene Peterson.
Jesus' approach was different from any other leader. Leaders draw people to themselves to achieve a goal. They have an agenda in mind. They attracted people to their cause. Jesus' cause was love. His teaching was all about his love for the individual. His agenda was not political. He was not trying to overthrow the government. He was not trying to win people's approval. If they had public opinion polls in his day, he would have had no interest in them.
His goal was so much greater. His goal was redemption of all of creation. He was not looking for a quick fix. He set out to bring about rebirth to all things. Man's choice to rebel against God's love left everything in a death spiral. Man's attempts to make it right had not only fallen short, but made the problem much worse. The people Jesus taught knew this first hand. The country they lived in was under the foreign rule of the Romans. They were brutalized by men trying to be gods. There was no hope of getting out from underneath the oppression.
When Jesus talked about being at the end of their rope, he had an audience that was right there with him and could relate to what he was saying.
Jesus teaches us to see something much higher than the circumstances that we find ourselves in. He let us know that we are loved and cared for right where we are. God is with us and if we set our hearts on God, we will find him.