When it comes to people, reconstruction means rebuilding the way we think, feel, and act. God started by sharing the Ten Commandments. He made it very clear what not to do. In the New Testament Jesus expresses the heart of the Ten Commandments in the Beatitudes. He made it very clear how to act. This progression serves as the foundation for reconstructing our lives and relationship with God.
For example, when a child is young they “learn what not to do”. Don’t eat dessert first. Don’t hit your brother. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Much like the Ten Commandments. When they mature they are ready to “learn what to do”. For instance they may learn to be considerate, be understanding, and forgive others. Much like the Beatitudes.
The Beatitudes are the progression of the Ten Commandments. They are the frame established on the Ten Commandment’s foundation.
The beatitudes reveal the way God desires mankind to live. Each one individually is powerful enough to change the way we live, but together they uncover God’s reconstruction story. Let’s take a look at the Beatitudes as we prepare to go deeper into each one in the weeks to come.
|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.|
If you look closely you can see that the first and last Beatitude are present assurances. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The middle beatitudes seem to be future promises. “They shall be comforted . . . They shall inherit the earth . . . They shall be satisfied . . . ” And so on.
What is the meaning of this pattern?
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS REVEALED THROUGH CHARACTER
These six things are what you can count on when you are a part of God’s kingdom. In other words this is what the kingdom brings: comfort, an inheritance, wholeness, mercy, a relationship with God, and an identity.
STAINED BY SIN, YET WASHED CLEAN IN HEAVEN
Another way to put it is that Jesus offers a way for anyone to begin to experience a shadow of what the kingdom of heaven will be. We can enjoy foretastes of it here and now; but the full experience of the life of the kingdom will have to wait for the age to come. Sin will have no more power and death will loose its sting. The fact is that despite our ability to only slightly understand, experience, and encounter what the kingdom brings, it is more than enough to change the way we engage the world.
Lets take a look at each of the Beatitudes as we prepare for the coming weeks. Slowly read through each one and reflect on the answers to the following questions.