While attending CrossPoint Church in Nashville, I experienced some amazing teaching. Pete Wilson taught on the “blessed are the meek” passage, and rocked it. One take away: When Jesus says “God blesses,” it could be translated as “God is on the side of…” I took the liberty of re-envisioning the often recited, rarely studied beatitudes of Jesus. Diving into these has developed a renewed passion for what God is about. For reference, read Matthew 5:3-10.
God is on the side of those who’ve been left behind, who’ve been forgotten … those who are not valued, and have “nothing” to offer. Those who are tired of church games. Those who are on the hunt for some kind of hope. The kingdom of heaven will be deeply meaningful and provocative to them … it will encourage, define, and lead them.
God is on the side of those who have experienced tragedy … who know their potential, but can’t seem to realize it … who feel deep sadness and despair for their situations. Those who seem to never get ahead. Those who know failure all to well. They will be comforted, will know peace … and will find hope.
God is on the side of those who are inconceivably strong … those who get angry at the right things, and apply patience to more trivial matters. Those who sacrifice their gains and lives for the benefit of others. They will win the world … they will experience a rich, satisfying life …. they will gain influence, and develop a platform for leadership to flourish.
God is on the side of those whose hearts yearn for justice … who hope for and envision better things. Those who fight and give voice to the less privileged, silenced, and oppressed. To those who’s lives are a testimony of grace and strength. They will see the results of their work … they will taste victory for their sacrifices … they will know joy through their passion.
God is on the side of those with pure motives … who desire good, wholesome, and beautiful things. Those who do not capitalize off the weakness of others … who do not seek to profit fame or fortune for their sacrifices. Those who do not help others in order to appear to be more spiritual. They will see God’s hand at work in everything they do. They will know God’s peace through every sacrifice. They will experience God’s power in their weaknesses.
God is on the side of those who work for peace. Of those who strive to resolve conflicts … who go without in order for someone else to be content. Of those who are not taken advantage of, but speak their minds and work toward resolution with those who differ. Of those who do not throw people with different opinions and interpretations under the bus. Of those who seek to love, instead of destroy. They will be known as a people with a higher purpose. They will exude God, and ooze grace. They will be visual representations of the full character, power, and potential of God.
God is on the side for those who are ridiculed, beaten, and outcast for doing what’s right … those who do the right thing, even when it’s not easy. Those who are bound by truth, honesty, and integrity. God’s kingdom will be made known through their hands, hearts, and reputations. They will be entrusted with much, for they are able to be trusted.
These teachings and parallels were counter-culture and counter-intuitive to the original audience. Contrast this with the accepted version … what was “common knowledge” in Jesus’ day:
God is on the side of the put together and the religious.
God is on the side of those who have much to offer.
God is on the side of those who always get their way … who are always victors.
God is on the side of those who are strong … who take what’s theirs.
God is on the side of those who have more stuff … more abilities, more connections, more talents.
This introduction to the sermon on the Mount is a brilliant reversal of psychology and viewpoints. It’s a counter-intuitive understand of life and interpretation of one’s surroundings. It’s a bold declaration that people had missed the point … and it’s a provocative invitation to “ordinary” people to experience an extraordinary God.