Last week I found Tim’s thoughts on The Beatitudes, Matthew chapter 5, helpful and thought provoking. It set me off on a train of thought about the ideas behind Christ’s words. I came to understand the passage in a slightly new light. Much has been written/speculated about the meaning of these words. That is all well and good but it can get so theological that the point of this part of Christ’s sermon on the mount is lost or gets confusing. I would suggest that Christ’s recorded words, be they parables, sermons, prayers, responses to people are in essence a guide, a pointer to the ways and the principles of “The Kingdom of Heaven”. Before I take a look at the Beatitudes, a reminder about Matthew. He uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” 32 times. The Old Testament would talk about the Kingdom of God. Matthew perhaps is updating the understanding of the phrase, Kingdom of God, to take into account the revelation of the Promised Messiah. Tim suggested that the beatitudes are about the opposite of what we might naturally think. Christ’s teachings (Kingdom Teaching) regularly challenged the norms when he was preaching. We are familiar with the way Christ turns things upside down, he shows a truth, a way of living that is opposite to the norm - “The first shall be last”, when you pray, don’t stand up front and spout forth instead pray quietly locked away, the widow’s mite was recognised as an amazing gift of great worth despite its meagre monetary value, store treasure in Heaven not in bigger and better barns……and so on. I suggest we should view the beatitudes in the light of the phrase “The Kingdom of Heaven” and that Christ’s teaching guides us to think “the opposite” to the normal views of life. To this end I have attempted to rewrite the Beatitudes in a “worldly view” and thus amplify what Christ was saying. As I go through each verse it may grate with you but hopefully reveal the beauty of Christ’s words as recorded in Matthew and to see the irony and failure of a wordly view of life. I have tried with varying success to pick up on something of the deeper meaning of each verse as indicated by the Greek. I will remind us of each beatitude, then a brief suggestion of the meaning, followed by my rewrite and an additional comment. Verse 3 – blessed are the poor in spirit – a constant realisation of 'spiritual insufficiency and the need for God’s Spirit. Verse 3: 'Blessed are the spiritually proud, the theologically knowledgeable, the spiritually self sufficient. Your reward is amongst your fellow humans by their admiration of your knowledge. (no chance of making it to the Kingdom of Heaven through your own knowledge and efforts – did you not know it’s a free gift available even to a child).' Verse 4 – blessed are those who mourn (grieve). Greek and context imply a sense of grieving for ones inherent spiritual sinful state, rather meaning grieving for a person who has died. Verse 4: 'Blessed are those who have no sense of sorrow for their life style or need for God. Your reward is to be seen as the pillar of self sufficient strength: and by the way deep seated loneliness as you journey. (God waits to to put his arms around you to give you comfort but you cannot see how wrong your life style is and admit your need for God)' Verse 5 – blessed are the meek – more than humility toward fellow humans but a deeper submission to God. The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when all else may be taken. Verse 5: 'Blessed are the proud, confident always right. Your joy is knowing you always have the answers, folk admire you for declaring I have no need of God for science provides the answers. No one will ever see your confusions and hurt. (The Holy Spirit and His work of revealing truth is not yet for you, Christ on the Cross asks for a contrite heart such that His love and truth might fill you…..)' Verse 6 – blessed are those that hunger for righteousness – a positive and intense longing Verse 6: 'Blessed are you who put yourself first whatever the effect on others as you bust God’s commandments. Enjoy your riches, your health and your friends, whilst you have them. (God’s forgiveness will be there for you when you long to lead a different life and to live as He intended.)' Verse 7 – blessed are those who show mercy – an active kindness as opposed to not dealing harshly with someone Verse 7: 'Blessed are the tough, who make sure goals are achieved personally and also for work. Your reward is to see the weak put in their place, and by the way hate yourself for it. (No kneeling before the cross my friend and saying “Sorry” to God, yet he will forgive you when you come to your senses, unlike you He will be compassionate and understanding when you sense your weakness).' Verse 8 – blessed are the pure in heart – free of sin, right before God Verse 8: 'Blessed are folk with flexible motives and morals. You shall come out on top and be looked up to by like minded folk, but the drink, the drugs, the sex wont take away the pain of knowing this is not right. (God’s amazing peace and love waits to calm your soul for when you wish to follow the way He designed us)' Verse 9 – blessed are the peacemakers – peaceable, loving peace Verse 9: 'Blessed are those that stir up relationships. Your reward is to see others fail in their friendships, giving you comfort because your relationships are so unhappy and a mess. (Jesus waits for you to show you a friendship that is true and will never fail. He will enable you to follow his command to love your neighbour, to love your enemy, to go the extra mile and find peace)' Verse 10 – blessed are the persecuted – in trouble for being righteous Verse 10: 'Blessed are you who live in a life of ease where money, and flexible morals and has brought you all the comforts you need and never standing up and following truth. Enjoy it and never discover the true meaning and reward of God’s life. (Jesus said I came to give you life and life to the full. It is open to all, but the rich man walked away from Jesus, it was too costly for him).' Verses 3 and 10 act as a frame/context – both verses include “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. The kingdom of heaven’s journey starts in verse 3 with us recognising our spiritual poverty and need for God. Christ takes us through some of the spiritual characteristics of the journey and ends by concluding that as we stand for what we believe is right, we may well have tough times but never loose sight of ….“for theirs (for us) is the Kingdom of Heaven” One final thought: The Beatitudes set the standard or, as Tim said, “principles” of the Kingdom of Heaven. They are in a sense impossibly high, and beyond us. However the wonder of the Christian journey is that with the Holy Spirit at work in us, with Christ’s teaching and example before us, we are empowered to live according to these standards/principles, frequently failing but like Paul we run the race until at last we stand before God, in the Kingdom of Heaven.