Freedom in Christ and the Beatitudes of the Kingdom of God
As a follower of Jesus the meaning and focus of the word freedom may not be what you think it is.
Jesus said, “If my words abide in you, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31-32)
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:13-14)
Jesus has freed us from living the default beatitudes of the world—
Blessed are the rich and self-sufficient.
Blessed are those who never mourn, grieve, or feel pain.
Blessed are those who dominate and control.
Blessed are those who are not bound by right/wrong, rules, the law.
Blessed are the hard-hearted and harsh.
Blessed are the pragmatic of heart.
Blessed are those who retaliate and exact their vengeance.
Blessed are those who are popular, well thought of by others, who don’t make waves but support the status quo.
And instead our heart can now be formed and shaped by the beatitudes of the Kingdom of God through the Spirit of God. We are freed to be salt/light and live the Sermon of the Mount life—a life grounded in the beatitudes of God’s Kingdom, the person of Jesus.
Note: You will notice below that I left off the second half of each verse. I did this so that it is easier to notice the starkness of what Jesus is saying—the second half can soften what Jesus is saying.
Beatitudes of the Kingdom: Words of Jesus to abide in as they abide in us. (Mt 5:3-12)
1 Blessed are the poor in spirit (depending on God)
2 Blessed are those who mourn (individually and universally for the brokenness that exists)
3 Blessed are the meek (non-violence)
4 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice)
5 Blessed are the merciful (sharing with others what we have received from God)
6 Blessed are the pure in heart (single-focused cf Mt 6:33)
7 Blessed are the peacemakers (not peace keeping—willing to suffer to make this happen)
8 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (justice)— willing to suffer to make this happen)
9 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me (willing to be personally attacked—be ready)
We have been freed to live Jesus—loving and serving God and others.
1. Read through the list of the beatitudes of the world paying attention to those that resonate with you, those that you are drawn to—at least in part—those you strongly disagree with—this is about honesty and awareness not condemnation. How might those beatitudes of the world you are drawn to hinder your ability to be free, to live Jesus?
2. Read through the beatitudes of the Kingdom of God. What do you see as the major differences between the beatitudes of the world and the beatitudes of the Kingdom of God?
3. Read through the beatitudes of the Kingdom of God a second time paying attention to those beatitudes of Jesus you resonate with, those you may feel resistant around, those you strongly disagree with—again this is about honesty and awareness not condemnation.
4. Read again through the list of the beatitudes of the kingdom of God—which one of these beatitudes may God be inviting you to partner with God in expanding/deepening within you? What might it look like to partner with God in cultivating this internal reality?
1. Poor in Spirit
6. Pure in heart
8. Persecuted because of living the God-life, living Jesus, pursuing justice
9. Personal persecution —insulted, say false things about you because you are living Jesus.
It is the internalization of the beatitudes of the Kingdom of God that enables us to be salt and light and to freely and fully live Jesus.
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