How should we live our lives if we believe in the Good News of the Kingdom of God? That was the question on the minds of the thousands of people who gathered to hear Jesus teach on a mountainside two thousand years ago.
The majority of Jesus’ audience for what we today call “The Sermon on the Mount” were subsistence farmers, who barely had enough money to pay their taxes, let alone eat. Infant mortality was extremely high, and life-expectancy was very low. Their lives were marked by back-breaking work, malnutrition, and disease.
They had a lot worry about; probably much more than you have. Yet it was to these people that Jesus said,
Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt 6:31–34, NIV).
How could Jesus say to these people, “Don’t worry?” And what does it mean to “seek first his kingdom?” How do we live life, so that we don’t just cope with it, but find real happiness in it? The answers to these questions are found in what we today call the Beatitudes, which are in Matthew 5:3–12.
The Beatitudes consist of nine descriptions of blessed groups (“blessed are the…”) followed by the reason for their blessedness (“for they will…”) The word “blessed” can be translated as “happy”.
Consider the third of the Beatitudes:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matt 5:4).
Each of the Beatitudes follows this same pattern. Right now, the children of God are mourning (present tense). But if they are mourning today, they will be comforted tomorrow (future tense). And because of that, they are blessed today (present tense). The Beatitudes present a future reality that Jesus speaks into the present lives of his children today. It is the glorious future reality that transforms all of your “todays”.
But how does this happen? Surely just by saying it doesn’t make it so? Not in normal circumstances. But these aren’t normal circumstances, because the Beatitudes are spoken by the Lord Jesus himself. He doesn’t speak about what might be or could be. He speaks of what is, because his is the word of power, that calls all things into being (John 1:1-3), and through whom all things consist (Col 1:17).
Speak the reality of what God will do, into your present reality.
We aren’t Jesus Christ. Things don’t generally become true just because we say them. But when we claim the promises of Jesus in our lives, then they become true for us.
What Jesus is teaching us to do in the Beatitudes is to speak the future into today. Speak the reality of what God will do, into your present reality. When you do that, your experience of life will be transformed.
Speak positivity, love, hope, and faith into your life, and into the lives of those around you. That’s how we speak, and that’s what we do in the Kingdom of God.
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.