FAITH & REFLECTION — There are eight beatitudes found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. They are groundbreaking spiritual teachings focused upon the Savior and others rather than self. They are not the means by which one arrives in heaven, but rather characteristics found in those who, through simple faith in Jesus Christ, are on their way to heaven.
In summary, the first two beatitudes, “the poor in spirit” and “those who mourn” are descriptive of how one comes to faith in the Lord. The “meek” in the third beatitude addresses the attitude of citizens of God’s kingdom. The fourth, those who “hunger and thirst” describes the appetite of and provides a healthy menu for kingdom children. The fifth, which deals with mercy, shows the aptitude of believers as they exhibit one of the fundamental traits of their Heavenly Father.
The sixth states that “the pure in heart will see God” suggesting pleasant blessings in the present, as well as powerful promises for the future. The seventh says that “peacemakers are blessed” and their connectivity with God is apparent in the process.
The final and eight beatitude is found in Matthew 5:10 (verses 12 and 13 provide additional information). It says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” At first glance it doesn’t seem to make sense. To be persecuted doesn’t sound like much of a blessing! Clarification is required.
To begin with, the blessing comes when, and only when, the persecution is the result of right living, or “righteousness.” 1 Peter 4:12 – 19 addresses this matter in detail. A brief, oversimplified synopsis of the passage is simply that if a Christian is suffering, it must be the result of living for God. All people suffer and experience hurt, but we need to understand the difference between persecution and punishment.
Some, under the general umbrella of Christendom, have deliberately invited ridicule and abuse for their alleged faith in Christ. They have mistakenly concluded that masochistically lining themselves up for suffering will result in merit from God. That isn’t what Jesus was teaching.
Persecution is neither invited, nor enjoyable. However, with the right attitude and biblical beliefs, it is manageable, as illustrated in the following true account.
Emperor Valens threatened Eusebuis (Christian scholar and historian 269-339 AD) with the confiscation of his property, torture, banishment, and possible execution. With calm assurance Eusebius answered, “He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.”
“The world never burned a casual Christian at the stake.” John R. Rice