Blessed are You – Living in the Kingdom of Happy

The word blessed can be replaced with the word happy. Jesus said, Blessed are... What is it like to live in the kingdom of happy

Preparing to teach the Beatitudes, I am trying to live my way into their truth by carrying them around on 3×5 cards and struggling to understand a Kingdom in which you are pronounced “happy” :

  • If you know that you are spiritually bankrupt.
  • If your poverty of soul makes you sad.
  • If you realize that you are not the center of the universe.

This image of need and hungering stops me in my tracks and re-orients my values.  John MacArthur puts it this way:  “Jesus went into the great display window of life and changed all the price tags.”  Could it be that the positions of influence and symbols of power that we covet are not all that valuable after all?

Reading, I see that although The Twelve squandered precious moments of their last days with Jesus squabbling over who should get the corner office, Jesus demonstrated no interest in the trappings of power.

A God who valued power over all else would not choose to identify Himself with a tiny nation of tent-dwellers.

He would not take on the space-and-time limitations of a body and then show up in the midst of an era of oppression, taxation, and poverty.

He would not “see the crowds,” then “sit down and open his mouth,” with the kind of power-bashing, establishment-alienating statements that we read in His Sermon on the Mount. In fact, just reading the Beatitudes can be hazardous, because I’m looking at the Christians I know — and, most of all, I’m looking in the mirror — and I’m realizing that most of us love power and everything that goes with it more than we love dealing with our sin or hungering for more of God.  The economy of my own heart leans toward a set of pronouncements that have nothing to do with Christ’s kingdom:

Blessed are you if your voice is heard in committee meetings, for then you shall have the last word.

Blessed are you if your ideas are recognized and see the light of day, for then you shall receive the credit.

Blessed are you if people respect your time, your boundaries, and your position, for then you shall experience no inconvenience in this life, and your heart may remain private and small.

Blessed are you if you are known, if you are read, if you are heard, and above all, if you are appreciated, for then you may point to your resume and feel validated.

Jesus let go of all this.

His servant, the Apostle Paul, was also cautious about the trappings of power. In reminiscing about his days with the Gentile believers in Thessalonica, there was no hint of glory-seeking, no cushy expense account, no claim on apostolic privileges. He worked with his hands to earn a living, and then ministered the gospel among them, “just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” Now, there’s a metaphor for self-emptying service!

The currency that Paul valued, and that he spent with all his heart, was the power of godly influence, of building up a body of believers who could persevere in their faith through hard times.  This is where Jesus placed the big price tags!

We have a pretty way of measuring “relevance” in our culture, and a pretty way of disregarding those we deem “irrelevant.” With the “key demo” for media advertising spanning the ages 18-49, can I find courage to ignore the relevance clock and fill my life with people who don’t make that cut? I want to be reminded every day of the power of wisdom that resides within a graying head. I need to hear the truth that Jesus’ kingdom-demo treasures the very old and the very young.

Pondering that kingdom with the help of my 3×5 cards, I am absorbing a value system that edges me toward a different world. As I read and write, as I make lists and perform the duties of “the keeper at home,” some days I wonder:  How did my hands, my brain, and my calendar get so full?  Wistfully, I speculate:

Is there something here that I can I let go of?

Jesus let go of power to gain freedom and life for the world.

Do I let go of freedom and life in order to gain power?

God, form my priorities and values around Truth, and teach me the precious value of vulnerability, of need, and of the still heart that has learned to say “enough.”

19 comments

  1. marthajaneorlando says:

    Michele, I love how you took the beatitudes and turned them on their heads, so to speak, so that we could truly see the real ones for what they are. I know this made me truly check my Jesus focus!
    Blessings to you!

  2. Jerralea says:

    Michele, this is quite a convicting post! I’m reminded of this saying, “How can I be building God’s kingdom, when I’m so busy building my own? (not sure who said it).

    I’ve been trying to think lately what can I give up to more focus on Him? It’s a lot tougher to give up something than to say no in the first place …

    • Michele Morin says:

      Jerralea, you’ve brought this idea of God’s kingdom right into the practical issue of priorities. We do need wisdom for when to say yes and when to say no. Thanks for reading and commenting — I always am blessed by your words.
      Michele Morin recently posted…Blessed Are YouMy Profile

  3. Kathleen Burnett says:

    Thanks for this! I have been just stuck on the first Beatitude lately. I wrote a post on my blog, casting my net, about it. The Beatitudes are something that get deeper each time you come back to study them, I think.

    • Michele Morin says:

      So true. I’m teaching through them again after quite a few years, and finding that I’m hardly using my old notes because I’m just finding more and more truth. I think some of the reason we get stuck on “poor in spirit” is that we struggle so with any appearance of need or being somehow “not enough” in ourselves. The Beatitudes bring our hearts back to the Gospel.

  4. Crystal Storms says:

    “God, form my priorities and values around Truth, and teach me the precious value of vulnerability, of need, and of the still heart that has learned to say “enough.” Amen! I need that still heart that hears His truth and follows His heart. Thank you, Michele, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )
    Crystal Storms recently posted…Intentional Tuesday Linkup {Week 41}My Profile

    • Michele Morin says:

      Me, too, Crystal. And our ears and eyes are bludgeoned with conflicting messages that promise peace but yield turmoil and bondage. Following Jesus’ example we learn what is truly valuable.

  5. dawnlizjones says:

    “…the power of godly influence”–wow! Where have I given up freedom and life to gain power? God give me wisdom! I’m seeing myself in the mirror here. Thank you.

    • Michele Morin says:

      Oh, Dawn, we all need to hold ourselves before the mirror of God’s Word and let Him change us from the inside out. We see in the life of Jesus a total others-centered value system, and a complete commitment to the plan of God. Of course, He was sinless and single-minded, but I believe we can gain insights to His value system by staying close to His words. Thank you so much for your comment. Blessings to you as you continue in the way of wisdom.

    • Michele Morin says:

      Debbie, thanks for weighing in with your words. I, too, have to really watch how I use my time. Even “good” things can suck the life out of us and leave little time for the “best” things. Only God can reveal to us what our priorities should be based on our own individual life and family and responsibilities, and we certainly need His wisdom!

  6. Lisa notes says:

    Beautiful truths and up-to-date realities of living the Beatitudes here. Thank you, Michele, for these reminders to let go. Jesus did. And that’s why we can too.

    • Michele Morin says:

      We are so much in need of a renewed mind when it comes to issues of power and control. Jesus set the example as well as teaching us. So often in Scripture we see Him ministering to the people on the fringes and infuriating those “in power.” Again, we have to stand on our heads to get it right if we’ve been steeped in “worldly wisdom” for success.

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