I think this excerpt from the preface to The Beatitudes: the only way to happiness is a really good summary of what The Beatitudes are all about.
The Beatitudes are especially significant as both the starting place and the foundation of all that Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. In a sense, the Beatitudes lay the groundwork for all Christian truth. For example, they help us understand the nature of true faith—because in describing those who are “blessed,” our Lord is actually describing the traits of the genuine believer.
The Beatitudes also demonstrate that the way to blessedness in Christ’s kingdom is a route far different from what the world maps for us. Kingdom joy and kingdom blessings are not measured in terms of affluence, mirth, pleasure, abundance, and ease. In fact, the spiritual qualities that reap kingdom blessings are incompatible with this world’s values.
So the citizen of God’s kingdom is not supposed to feel at home in this world. Our citizenship belongs to the heavenly kingdom, and we are but strangers and sojourners in this world—put here to serve as ambassadors of the King. As such, we are to live under the higher standards of the heavenly kingdom—and we also reap its infinitely higher privileges. MacArthur, J. (1998). The Beatitudes: the only way to happiness. Chicago: Moody Press.
Some of what John MacArthur says there is easy to accept. But some isn’t, like the part about how a citizen of God’s kingdom is not supposed to feel at home in this world.
It can be hard to even begin a life where we don’t feel at home in the world within which we physically live. It can be even harder to stay in that life, especially when we lose friends because of that choice. And when things go wrong.
Life to the full, through the Beatitudes
And yet, it’s also the only way to achieve something Jesus talked about – life to the full.
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
And that’s about life to the full in both the next life and this current one.
In this series, we’ll see how each of the Beatitudes builds on the previous ones. They are a progression. Each leads to the next. And for any given one, all of the previous must become more significant and a greater part of our lives in order to achieve the effects of that one to the fullest extent.
It’s only twelve verses. But it’s the Christian lifestyle in those twelve short verses. They are our road-map to that life to the full Jesus promised could be ours.
A work in progress
This series is coming rather slowly because we’re using it in a class at church. Each one is written as we approach the end of the study of the one before it. Hopefully, that leads to something better than writing them all at once, since whoever reads this will get the benefit of discussions we have in our class.
So I just ask for patience if you’re going through this one now. We will get there.
If you’d like to receive emails as new articles are added to this site, please subscribe using the button towards the top right corner – or on cell phones, probably towards the bottom of the page.