Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes are widely ignored by modern Christians because they don't understand what they mean.

This is because they are profoundly counter-cultural.

The following are some likely responses of modern people.

"'Blessed are the poor in spirit,'"  Matthew 5:3a (NRSV) What could that mean.?  They don't look blessed to me, "'for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'"  Matthew 5:3b (NRSV) That's not what they told me.  You have to earn your place in heaven.

"'Blessed are those who mourn,'"  Matthew 5:4a (NRSV) What's that got to do with it?  "'for they will be comforted.'"  Matthew 5:4b (NRSV) When?  By whom?

"'Blessed are the meek,'"  Matthew 5:5a (NRSV) Hardly, the meek get trampled on.  You've got to be strong.  "'for they will inherit the earth.'"  Matthew 5:5b (NRSV)  Since when?

"'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,'"  Matthew 5:6a (NRSV)  You'll be waiting a long time.  "'for they will be filled.'"  Matthew 5:6b (NRSV)  There's no evidence of that.

"'Blessed are the merciful,'"  Matthew 5:7a (NRSV)  They'll take advantage of that.  "'for they will receive mercy.'"  Matthew 5:7b (NRSV)  If you say so.

"'Blessed are the pure in heart,'"  Matthew 5:8a (NRSV)  If you want your heart broken.  "'for they will see God.'"  Matthew 5:8b (NRSV)  No one has seen God (St. Paul).

"'Blessed are the peacemakers,'"  Matthew 5:9a (NRSV)  If you want to lose.  You have to be strong.  "'for they will be called children of God.'"  Matthew 5:9b (NRSV)  Not in my Church.

"'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,'"  Matthew 5:10a (NRSV)  If you want to be tortured.  "'for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'"  Matthew 5:10b  Heaven is for those who obey God's commandments.

"'Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account,'"  Matthew 5:11 (NRSV)  Christians do the persecuting in my world.
"'Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'"  Matthew 5:12 (NRSV)  What do you mean?  The prophets are glorified.

These are some likely responses of modern men and women to the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes have always flown in the face of doctrine so they have been widely ignored or gently put aside as a mystery.

But it may be time to look at the Beatitudes again with an open mind.

[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

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