“Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” Matthew 5:3
The sermon opens with a section called the Beatitudes—from a word that means blessing—and they are eight declarations of what true blessing is. These are some of the most famous and precious words of Jesus. The overall tone of the statements is spiritual, and though each one can be read separately, they all also interpret and support each other. There is a mix of both character (those who are merciful) and circumstance (those who are persecuted). The explanations of the blessedness come in both this-worldly (they shall be comforted) and otherworldly terms (they shall see God). They are simple yet all encompassing and multi-faceted.
They are also somewhat surprising. Campus culture isn’t quick to say “Blessed are those who steer clear of the hook-up scene,” or “Blessed are those who champion other classmates above themselves.” Even if some of these qualities can be admired from afar occasionally, we usually don’t trust that they will work for us. We need to get ahead, socially and professionally. We need to look out for ourselves, strive for ourselves.
That’s because the campus end goal, and the end goal of the world, is a worldly happiness and success. The American dream is to work hard, make your money, and secure your comfort, push off your pain. It creates a society that ironically tags a post #blessed, but doesn’t actually think that the purpose is to gratefully, humbly receive, let alone run after heavenly things.
Read over the blessings once again. Jesus doesn’t try to convince you that these things are what you should want; he presents them simply as desirable, as real treasure, despite how the current state of the person might otherwise look. This is a recurring theme with Jesus: things aren’t always what they seem, and he asks you to trust him over what you may first be inclined to think.
Perhaps you’ve not yet made up your mind about whether or not Jesus deserves your trust. I would commend to you reflecting on these blessings, and pondering the character of a person who would champion them.
But perhaps you have decided that Jesus is worthy of trust, and conflicted though your heart can be, you want to follow him. The heart behind the Beatitudes is one of humility, and of looking to God for all that we need. You can come to him confessing, mourning any ways that your heart or actions have run contrary to his priorities, and he will always forgive, always comfort. You can ask him to change your heart to purity, to put in you a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and you shall be satisfied. Pray over these declarations, and let Jesus’s words recalibrate your view of blessing.