Matthew 5: 1-12
There is something about summer and hot weather that promotes relaxation. We love to indulge in activities like sitting around the pool, going on vacation, or just sitting in the AC because the average summer temperature in Arkansas is somewhere around 400 degrees. Relaxing and trying to rest is not a bad thing, in fact it is a necessity in many of our lives. However this summer trend of relaxation in our physical life often causes a relaxation in our spiritual life.
Just recently I started to notice that I was relaxing a bit spiritually and I needed a boost. I dove into the scriptures and God lead me to Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. In the first section of this sermon Jesus talks about what your life should look like as a Christian. We know them today as the Beatitudes. When reading the Beatitudes we must see through the lens of a first century Jew. Their spiritual role models are the Pharisees and Jesus shows up and talks about these characteristics which are exactly opposite of the Pharisees.
One Commentary said this about the relation between the beatitudes and the Pharisees. “These qualities [the Beatitudes] contrast sharply with Pharisaic “Righteousness.” The Pharisees were not “poor in spirit”; did not “mourn” in recognition of their needs; were proud and harsh, not humble and gentle, they felt they had attained righteousness and therefore had no appetite for it; they were more concerned with “legalities” of God’s and their own law than with showing mercy; were pure ceremonially but not inwardly created rifts, not peace in Judaism, and certainly did not possess true righteousness.”
These are the Pharisees, the bad guys of the Bible. I am not surprised that they were not in line with the Beatitudes. However, if this passage was modernized, it becomes more impactful to us. What if it read this way; “These qualities [the Beatitudes] contrast sharply with the modern day church goers view of righteousness. The average churchgoer is not “poor in spirit”; does not “mourn” for their needs because they figure they can do a better job handling it on their own. They are proud and harsh; they are often the opposite of humble and gentle. They are contently bragging on their own success. They feel like their life is pretty good and God is just a bonus therefore they do not hunger and thirst for righteousness. They are more concerned with the “legalities” of making an appearance at church on Sunday than showing mercy. If they want to do something that interferes with church like, kids sports, sleep or relaxing from a busy week it is ok to put God in the back burner, as long as they are happy. They constantly create rifts, not peace at their local church, and certainly did not possess true righteousness.”
Have we adopted the same attitude toward God as the Pharisees? Jesus gave us the Beatitudes not as something to be glanced over. This is the way we should be living. Do a beatitude check in your life and see where you line up with Jesus.