The Beatitudes don’t make a whole lot of sense for people like us who live in this crazy and frenzied world that is so focused on self: always focusing on protecting ourselves, watching out for number one, nurturing our sense of self-entitlement. In our world blessings are given to people that live what seem to be extraordinary lives, those who succeed. Unfortunately this is often at the expense of others. Being poor in spirit, peaceful, merciful, and meek will get you nowhere fast in this world. We’d get eaten alive if we really tried to live into the spirit of the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes just seem like an unrealistic challenge for ordinary living these days, especially when we’re trying so hard to live extraordinary lives.
But Jesus means the Beatitudes for each and every one of us. And they are not a list of impossible tasks. They are promises, whispered to each of us when nothing else seems to make sense. They are the promise of true happiness beyond anything that we have ever imagined.
Living into the spirit of the Beatitudes involves looking at them as a whole, instead of looking at each one individually. Each is related to the others, and they build on one another.Those who are meek, meaning humble, are more likely to hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they remain open to the continued knowledge of God.
When we break them down like that, we can see principles in the Beatitudes that give us alternatives to what the world tells us to pursue. Simplicity. Hopefulness. Compassion. Simplicity that tells us to put first things first, hopefulness that tells us to move beyond cynicism and put our hope in Christ and compassion that tells us to take to heart the African term ubuntu: “I am who I am because of who we all are.”
It is in this way that we can live into the spirit of the Beatitudes. God doesn’t need us to be extraordinary. God needs us to be simple, hopeful and compassionate. In other words, God needs us to be ordinary people living lives that are filled with the spirit of the Beatitudes. It is then, and only then, that the extraordinary light of Jesus Christ can shine through us for all the world to see.
Rev. Eve Williams