It is January. A new year. Days of new beginnings and fresh starts. These are here-we-go kind of days. And revving the engine of the New Year are all our hopes and dreams for what the next 12 months may hold -- a healthier body, a new accomplishment, a desire to live life fully. Without knowing every person’s resolutions, it is safe to say that they all revolve around this idea of betterment. We resolve to do things that we believe will make us happier on the inside and out. No matter who we are.
This universal New Year perspective is dear to me. So precious that no matter where we are, who we know, what our circumstances, our desires all come back to this basic craving for soul-deep happiness. And how utterly amazing that there is a God that knows this about all of humanity, and even more so, that He gave us a Book that would guide us to the answers every heart yearns to know.
In Matthew 5:3-10, it’s as if Jesus sits down with His peeps and whispers, do you want to know the key a blessed life, a soul-deep happy life? I will tell you…
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Boom. There it is. That’s the secret. It’s just that it doesn’t look like what I thought it would. In fact, I sort of want to disagree and plead the whole He-can’t-mean-this-literally thing. That was clearly a different culture, right? But when I look at what was going on, I think He means every word precisely. When Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, it was at the beginning of His ministry. He was starting to gather huge crowds, and His ministry was all the buzz. (Let’s just say Jesus was trending.) The crowds wanted healing (better bodies); they wanted freedom (financial, spiritual and political); they wanted to live happy, full lives in the midst of hard circumstances. Hmmm… That sounds rather familiar. Don’t we all ponder what it is that will make us feel complete, make us happy? What will most bless our kids, our bodies? What will heal our relationships?
The buzz then was that this Jesus just might be able to deliver. And from the midst of a swirling culture where everyone was chattering about what or whom was going to save them from their own little (or big) messes, Jesus pulled aside to a quiet hillside and offered the key to a blessed life. And as easy as it would be for me to dismiss these verses as irrelevant, I must at least entertain the possibility that the words whispered on that hillside may in fact be very relevant indeed to a girl also wind-blown by the swirling culture all around her. Could it be that these words offer soul-deep happiness to this Pinterest-perusing, Facebook-stalking, all-the-time-texting, desperate-to-look-just-right, determined-to-get-it-together woman in 2015?
Well, there’s one way to find out. Will you join us every other Monday as we dig into these 8 verses? Let’s see if words spoken over 2000 years ago could ring true in this New Year. Everyone is welcome. Come as you are.