The word “beatitude” comes from the Latin heatus meaning “blessed”. When we read the Sermon on the Mount we refer to the poor in spirit, the peacemakers, etc., as blessed. But the word also means “happy”. To be blessed is to be happy and to be happy is to be blessed. The Greek makarioi carries both meanings, while the English “blessed” conveys only a sense of being approved by God.
The reason I bring this up is because in Matthew 5:11, 12 we read these words, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for our reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
So, we could say, “Happy are you when men revile you” etc. Now that is a different twist on life. We could say we are happy because God approves us. Notice, there is nothing we do to be blessed, we are in fact persecuted and reviled according to verses 11, 12. However, it is one thing to be happy or approved by God when being persecuted, but Jesus further instructs “Rejoice and be glad”.
Let’s take a look at how Luke expresses Jesus words, “ Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy for behold your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets,” Luke 6:22, 23.
I love this idea of leaping for joy and rejoicing when faced with persecution. Many of us instead play the victim and do the “poor me” dance because people don’t agree with us on theological matters. Both Luke and Matthew, however, are reminding their readers that persecution is often accompanied by death and that they live in an ever-present reality that they may die for their faith.
Another translation of Luke 6:23 says, “rejoice on that day and dance.” OK, we are persecuted and our response is to rejoice, leap for joy, and dance. That sounds like a wonderful response but Luke continues by quoting Jesus, “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you,” Luke 6:27, 28.
Now are you ready for verse 35, “But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.”
What is being said here? I believe God is reminding us that to have a real relationship with Him is to love people, especially those who oppose us. This is how we reflect the character of God to a lost world. God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish, and that always includes us, and He calls for us as His disciples to love those people as well.
Many of you reading this post have grown up in churches that are judgmental and self-righteous. They believe that knowing the doctrines of their church is the most important thing in the world and salvation only comes through church affiliation. They end up believing that only people who believe like them are worthy of love. These churches become inward looking and concentrate upon their own salvation and make that the central theme of their Christianity.
Jesus is calling for something entirely different. He is saying that to be a disciple is to love without any thought of receiving love back. Christianity isn’t about getting right with God or proving ourselves to Him, but instead allowing Him to redeem us and love us unconditionally. It is only then that we are right with Jesus. Christianity is not about us, it is about Jesus and therefore it is about the people that He loves.
God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish and so we should be also. You see Christianity is a lot more demanding than we think. It costs nothing to believe a handful of teachings in the Bible, but it changes us when we learn to love unconditionally.
If you’re car is broken down in a Maritime snow storm do you want someone to come along who loves people or someone who knows His Bible doctrines but couldn’t care less about you, (think Good Samaritan)?
Christianity is practical, touching the hearts of the broken throughout the world. When we make it all about us and our wants and likes we miss what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
To be happy is to be blessed and in order for that to happen we will love others as Jesus loves them.
* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…