Today we start a new series drawn from the Beatitudes which describe the abounding blessings of Christ in us. We start with the introduction this week, go to a preview with our next entry, and then we will look at each of the Beatitudes to see what these blessings mean to us as we seek to grow in the Beatitudes Attitude.
Blessed are . . . (Matthew 5:1-12)
The first recorded words of Jesus to His future disciples were words of blessing, and what blessings they are! These blessings are the essence of life that have endured through the ages and define reality itself. How could so much be said in so few words and yet so completely capture what life is all about: the Beatitudes Attitude.
The Beatitudes Attitude is a passionate desire to grow in Christlikeness no matter what it costs. And Jesus makes it clear that the Beatitudes are very costly. The Beatitudes are a self-description of Jesus as He introduces Himself by showing us who He is and how He lives. They are also a revelation of God in the flesh, God in being and in doing.
This means the Beatitudes are the ultimate description of discipleship, of what a disciple of Jesus is and the foundation for what a disciple does. As always with Jesus, it’s being first and doing second.
Many think of discipleship as what we do and disciple making as teaching others activities—really good activities—that will make them disciples. Things like praying, reading our Bibles, giving and witnessing. Such activities are part of being a disciple, but activities in themselves never make us anything but active.
Something has to happen inside of us to make us disciples, and that something is summarized in the Beatitudes. Being a disciple is about who we are and doing always grows out of being. Of course what we do contributes to who we are, but many use activity to mask who they are so others won’t know them.
The Beatitudes force us to face who we are because that’s what Jesus calls us to do: He aims to make us see ourselves so we become like Him, the most painful but also the most wonderful blessing in life.
Some may be surprised to see pain associated with blessing because they think a blessing is always something we want that makes us happy. In fact, there are many who say the word “blessed” in the Beatitudes means happy. That cannot be. Discovering we’re bankrupt or we’ve hurt others deeply through our sin or being attacked from multiple sides when we act to make peace are hard painful experiences we don’t want, but they come to us from God’s hand.
The Beatitudes are a blessing for us in the same way Gethsemane was a blessing for our Lord: the painful will of God that enabled Him to bring life to others. In the Beatitudes a blessing is a gift from God designed to force us to face ourselves and grow us in Christlikeness. They may not be happy events, but they are always blessed times.
Finally, the Beatitudes are all about Christ in us and through us because they are a description of Christ and only He can live this way. Thus the Beatitudes Attitude is only done through desperate dependence on Christ.
There is teaching that the Beatitudes are a series of steps we can accomplish, a to do list for Christians. The Beatitudes are not a to do list; they are a can’t do list apart from Christ. Without Him we can do nothing, especially the Beatitudes. Can we have them as a series of aims we want to accomplish? Absolutely! Can we have them as a series of steps we can discipline ourselves to do on our own? Absolutely not!
You see, to have the Beatitudes Attitude and experience the abounding blessings that come through the Beatitudes, we must depend desperately on Christ in us.
To continue abounding in Beatitude blessing, we must continuously depend on Christ.