The Beatitudes

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A New Kingdom

Moving to the UK two years ago, I needed to know how to live in this kingdom and what’s expected of me: what I should do, what I should not do. In a way, I had to go back to school to learn the rules of the United Kingdom.

Author James Joyce taught me the “British beatitudes” of “beer, beef, business, bibles, bulldogs, battleships, [debauchery] and bishops.”[1]

Thanks to the primary school, I learned about “fundamental British values” such as democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, tolerance of those of different faiths, and never, ever jump a queue.[2]

Now, these values are those of an earthly kingdom, a kingdom of this world. God too has a kingdom: “the kingdom of heaven” as Matthew likes to say following the Jewish custom of substituting “heaven” for “God” out of respect. But his kingdom is not like an earthly kingdom. God’s kingdom is a kingdom made up of those who pledge allegiance to him (by faith) and live under his rule. You know God’s kingdom when you see it because it acts differently to an earthly kingdom. It’s God’s way of doing things with God as king.

In this country—the United Kingdom—we bless the king, singing, “God Save the King.”

In God’s kingdom, the King blesses us. How amazing that King Jesus blesses us! This is both a comfort and an encouragement to live God’s way.

Worked Out in Stages

A famous theologian once remarked that the eight Beatitudes are problematic because nobody can ever remember more than seven of anything.[3] If that’s true, then what are we to do with Jesus’s most famous talk? Don’t stress. That’s why we have bibles: you can re-read or listen again to Jesus’s words at any time, in any place, and on any device. Also, I suspect that some of us don’t have trouble remembering the entire eleven-man squad of our favorite football team, so maybe there is hope.

Secondly, Jesus’s prayer that heaven come to earth is being worked out in stages. As you seek to follow Jesus in your daily life, God’s Spirit will work in you to produce the blessings that he has promised. Isn’t that amazing? Since the beatitudes are his promises, he will see to it that they are progressively worked out in you and ultimately come to fruition if we let his values take root in us.

Our response to Jesus’s teaching should be one of handing ourselves over to him—pledging allegiance to him—day after day, hungering and thirsting for more and more of the sweetness of knowing him and making him known to our neighbors. For as the Scriptures say, he who began a good work in you will thoroughly complete it by the time you meet Jesus face to face (Phil 1:6 BFE).

Candy Bar Beatitudes

To remind us of the sweetness of God’s kingdom and perhaps make the beatitudes easier to remember, I thought I’d associate each one with a candy bar:

  • The poor in spirit: Blessings to you when you know that you need God, and you depend on him! You belong in God’s kingdom!
    • Twix, because you recognize you’re betwixt a rock and hard place without God.
  • Those who mourn: Blessings on you when you feel sad or have lost something very dear to you (MSG). God himself will comfort you!
    • Fudge, you feel like your life has been all fudged up.
  • The meek: Blessings on you when you are kind and gentle! It’s these sorts of people whom God thinks should run the world!
    • Milky Way, a soft nougat layer topped with gooey caramel and chocolate.
  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessings on you when you crave for things to be done correctly, for wrongs to be made right, as God desires them! God is in the process of making that happen and you are his instrument!
    • Twirl, because, according to my kids, it’s the one that makes them thirsty.
  • Those who show mercy. Blessings on you when you show mercy and forgive! You know that you mess up from time to time, so you understand when other people mess up too, and so God will treat you that same way as well.
    • Galaxy, because God has removed your sins as far as one star is from another.
  • The pure in heart. Blessings on you when desire and think about lovely things, when your thoughts and actions are aligned with God’s values! You will see God in all his glory!
    • Dairy Milk, it’s pure chocolate.
  • The peacemakers: Blessings on you when you maintain and restore the peace! That’s how God’s children act!
    • Wispa, because you know to whisper when others are shouting.
  • Those who are persecuted because of righteousness: Blessings on you when people make fun of you or mistreat you for living God’s way! You belong in his kingdom, and he’ll reward you. This is the sort of life that God blesses and makes truly happy, even if you don’t see it now.
    • Crunchie, Snickers, and Bounty, because you may get crunched up for living God’s way, people may laugh and snigger, but don’t worry, God’s bounty awaits you.

Closing

This morning Jesus is singing these blessings over you. The King of kings is blessing you! May his beatitudes—his blessings—be true of you. He wants this for you and will bless you so that you can be a blessing. When was the last time you blessed someone? Go be a blessing.

References

  1. Gyles Brandreth, ed., “The British,” in Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
  2. “British Values | Theydon Bois Primary School,” Theydon Bois Primary School.
  3. Elizabeth Knowles, ed., “St Robert Bellarmine,” in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 8th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

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