In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus redefines what success looks like.
Matthew 5:1-12 (MSG)
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”
Our world has a certain perspective about what it means to be blessed. But the world’s ideas are vastly different from God’s ideas. In Matthew 5, Jesus turns the word “Blessed” upside down and shows that the people whom the world considers poor, weak, and not worth the time are actually the ones who are closest to the Kingdom of God.
We can see ourselves in the Beatitudes. We are closer to God’s Kingdom when we:
realize our need for him
mourn and seek his comfort
hunger and thirst for God
show mercy to others
maintain a pure heart
work for peace
stand up for right, even in the face of persecution
“Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside someone else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”
— Frederick Buechner