Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus, “The Sermon on the Mount,” Matthew 5:1-12, NRSV
But, as Kenton pointed out on Kurt Willem’s blog, without the resurrected Jesus, these are just words, and words that mean nothing. If Jesus stayed dead, then the human nature that reverses the beatitudes, that worships wealth and power, has the last word.
The worst thing is, even as Christians, we sometimes let that human nature get the last word in our lives and churches. I’m guilty of this myself, sometimes. I’ve struggled with every one of these, mostly as the offender. To be honest, I still struggle with some of them.
Too often, we have our “Church-attitudes”
Blessed are the rich, for their tithes support the church programs.
Blessed are those who put on a positive face, who acknowledge no public pain or weakness, for they are attractive to others.
Blessed are the popular and charismatic, for their celebrity builds the church.
Blessed are those who appear righteous and respectable, well-dressed and presentable, for they bring no scandal to the church.
Blessed are the moral gatekeepers, for their criticism, condemnation, and gossip truly bring their brethren closer to God.
Blessed are the safely conforming, for they bring no challenge to their Evangelical conservatism or Mainline liberalism, but allow their fellow-congregants to believe they are right, and their counterparts are barely even Christians.
Blessed are the right, for the arguments they win will surely bring the lost to Christ.
Blessed are those who complain about persecution in America, for media criticism and fast food boycotts are clearly equivalent to the prison and martyrdom so many Christians still face.
Blessed are you when the right people revile you, when you hold yourself above the sold-out liberals/small-minded fundamentalists, for they will know we are Christians by our enemies.
Kenton is right: without a resurrected Christ, the beatitudes are reversed. And that’s true even in the church. If we lose sight of the resurrected Jesus, our human nature takes over, and we sanctify our own pain-avoidance and power-seeking. And sometimes, I am the worst offender.