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Rethinking the beatitudes - what are they all about?

What are the beatitudes in Matthew 5 all about? 

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 sons of God
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

It is often thought that these are attitudes that we need to cultivate to be blessed.  But is that so. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit' sounds like it encourages us recognize our need of God spiritual humility or whatever, but
lets just rewrite the first one:

Blessed are the poor in health
Blessed are the poor in hearing
Blessed are the poor in sight
Blessed are the poor in education

Or just look at the beatitude from Luke 6:20:  Blessed are the poor.

Are these states or attitudes to which we should aspire?  Are they the route to blessing?  Do you know anyone who celebrates the 'blessedness' of a lack of education or the 'blessedness' of not having enough food for dinner or clothing for the children?  If not why is cultivating spiritual poverty a route to blessing?

The Luke passage is challenging:

Blessed are the poor
Blessed are you who hunger
Blessed are you who weep
Blessed are you when men hate you
Woe to you who are rich
Woe to you who are well fed
Woe to you when all men speak well of you.

Is this passage saying that God says to us at Stonnington Baptist Church - Woe to you - you aren't blessed?

We will be exploring this on Sunday 13th April.  Come ready to participate.  Check back next week for  part 2.

David Wanstall, 10/04/2008