Jesus says: Adjust Your Attitude

In my first post on the "Sermon on the Mount," I looked at how Jesus turned the concept of blessing and Divine favor upside down.  The blessed life is one that is marked by suffering, not good times and endless prosperity.  

To accept such a notion is foreign to the way we think.  So different and radical is this way of thinking that you'll never embrace these teachings without experiencing an internal rewiring of your heart and mind.  For the ideas tend to offend our sensibilities.  And they ultimately require a real attitude adjustment on our part.    

Let's look at the "attitudes"  and deeply ingrained mindsets that Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:3-11:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God" (Matthew 5:3; NASB)
Looking again at the Beatitudes, we see Jesus associates the idea of being blessed with being poor. He lived in a religious minded society, that like our society, saw no such association.  If you were rich and of good health, you were considered blessed by God.  Mingling blessing and poverty together are not two things we usually associate with each other.  We associate health, wealth, and prosperity, with blessings, not suffering from want.  But to those who suffer such (and embrace that suffering), there is a kingdom for such people.  Wealth and riches often have a way of taking God's place in our life, and such is a threat to those to whom belongs the kingdom of God.  If you are wealthy and a Christian, you should live in a state of high alert.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)
Sadness? Ain't nobody got time for that!  Nobody wants to mourn.  We'd rather every sermon we listen to end on a high note.  We want to feel uplifted as often as possible.  But the truth of the matter is, the everlasting joy that Jesus gives never comes without a heavy dose of godly sorrow.  And as your heart grows closer to the heart of God, you are going to begin to see things as God sees them.  And when you see things as God sees them, you'll see some things that break your heart.  But, therein you will find comfort.  For when you learn to see this world with the heart of God, you'll see what God's ultimate plans and purposes are for this world, and you'll learn to rest in the fact that God is getting ready to act.
"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5) 
In case you haven't studied history, or haven't watched CNN or Fox News lately, let me tell you a little secret:  We live in a world where violent men think they can take over the world.  We live in a world where might makes right; where you have to kill or be killed; and where, as politicians are so fond of saying, "We have to lead from a position of strength."    Jesus is unimpressed with our justified theories for waging war.  Jesus says our strength comes from our weaknesses.  Fight all you want and claim that God is on your side, but such will never buy you any sense of true security.  Even the strongest of war lords will be overthrown one day, and they'll never be able to so much as keep one square inch of this world.  For ultimately, it is the gentle who will inherit the earth.  The gentle may be killed in the process. But they are ok with that.  For, they are looking forward in hope, clinging to the promises of God, in which the Lord gives them an everlasting possession that no man will take away.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6)
The word "righteousness" is one of those complex Bible words that we hear tossed around a bit, but few know its actual meaning.  In its essence, righteousness is the state of being in a right and whole relationship, where we owe nothing to anybody, and are on equal footing.  At times, this means to be in right relationship with your neighbor, and at other times this means to be in right relationship with God.  So what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?  A lot of that depends on where you are at in your life.  Do you have some personally soured relationships where division exists?  Seek to be reconciled and bridge those gaps.  Do you see injustice in this world?  Look to stamp it out.  Are you lingering in some unrepentant sin before God?  Then you need to quit that stuff.  We usually don't have an appetite for such things.  Such things are hard.   But if you pursue them like a hungry man, God promises to fill you up.
  "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." (Matthew 5:7)
Let's be honest, when somebody wrongs us, the last thing we want to do is show them mercy.  We want to see them get what's coming to them!  We hope karma bites them hard in the butt.  And if somebody kills somebody we love, we hope we can be there to throw the switch on execution day.  And after that, we hope they burn in hell.  Such an attitude in pervasive in our human nature.  We love justice and retribution.  If Islamic terrorists behead Christians in Syria or Iraq, we can't wait to petition the United States government to wage a war on our behalf.  And in doing all this, we throw mercy out the window.  But it is in such terrible things that God wants us to learn to show mercy.  Mercy is a gift we give the undeserving.  It is a gift God has given us.  So, let's share that gift with others.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  (Matthew 5:8)
When we do stupid things and wish to justify them so as to linger in our stupidity, we are quick to point out "But God knows my heart!"   Indeed, He does, and what He sees He doesn't like.  Your heart is a terrible problem.  It loves the things that God hates.  That heart needs to change, and it needs to change quickly.  For without that change of heart, you are in danger of spending eternity apart from God and away from His presence.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." (Matthew 5:9)
This would've been troubling for the ears of an ancient Jew to hear.  Peacemakers?  But what about those pagan and wicked Romans who do nothing but wage war against us, steal our homeland, and kill our people?  Peace?  Are you nuts!!!  And so the attitude persists even today.  A two state solution with the Palestinians?  A nuclear peace treaty with Iran?  Jesus... what crack are you smoking?  As an American Christian, I can't help but notice we have such an appetite for war and bloodshed.  There is hardly a "cause" we aren't willing to back, and a war that we aren't willing to baptize.  I think we should reconsider our sons of God status in light of such a thing.
"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
How can there be any blessing whatsoever associated with such terrible and unjust mistreatment at the hands of others?  How is such a good thing?  Well, if all you are thinking about is this life and your attachment to it, then this is a terrible thing and should be avoided at all costs.  But, if you are willing to identify with the legendary men and women of God who came before you, then such suffering will ultimately be worth it.  For we are looking forward to the resurrection of the dead.  And however miserable our lives are, or if those lives are cut short, we know that death is not the final answer.  We know that we shall live yet again, and the eternal reward that God has prepared for us will consume whatever trial it is that we endured in this world in His name, and on His behalf.  The suffering in this life is nothing compared to the joy that will follow.  And that is something worth getting excited about, even in the present.

In closing, I just have to ask:  How is your attitude?  Where does it need to be adjusted?  And do you want to be among the blessed, those whom God highly favors?

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