Jesus’ Happiness Logic!
AUGUST 2, 2022
“Low predictability, high communication. High predictability, low communication.”
That is probably the most enduring message I ingested from my first semester as a communications major in college. And I have found it enduringly true since that time back in the early 19th century!
Jesus ranked universally lowest on the predictability scale and thus historically the highest of all time, compared to anyone, on communication impact. Is this proven any more provocatively true than in His introduction to the first of five sermons that Matthew builds his Gospel around?
Surprisingly, the Beatitudes elicit a range of responses in those who open up, dig in and feel the weight of what He says: incomprehension, disagreement, disbelief, anger, amazement, conviction, recognition, humility, repentance, faith, wonder chased by a helpless sense for the need of mercy and grace to even begin to move in His direction on any of these points.
Well, those are my responses at least. The Beatitudes tear at my soul! What does Jesus do to your soul when you read His words again?
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Many more penetrating minds and larger hearts than mine have commented on our Lord’s words above, but here are some realities that strike me as significant for Christ followers today.
These words are other-worldly. What Jesus teaches us here is so stunningly outside of the way we think and act, that we must conclude that they arise not from academic research nor from human philosophical reasoning. These words fall on our minds as an echo from Heaven. This agenda for living is connected to God who created us and now reveals to us how we are to live in this broken and deconstructed world, until He determines to set all things right.
These words are so unpredictable that we must take them seriously. This is Jesus’ manifesto on how people can become happy, and being happy is a huge project of our humanity. But they are so “out of the box,” so contrary to the way we think, and the combination of Jesus’ life, teaching and resurrection are so world-changing that we simply have to rethink our individual methodologies for happiness! The Beatitudes pull me in, grab me by the shirt, and shake me and demand that I listen!
These words are connected with a logic that eventually convinces us that they are undeniably true, and must be followed with our whole hearts, for our whole lives. The poor in spirit have come to the end of themselves and so they have given up their self-salvation project and mourn over their sin that they cannot undo in order to be righteous before God. Those who mourn over their sin become more gentle with others than they ever were and grow to hunger, yes, thirst for God’s kind of righteousness because their attempts at righteousness have left them empty and starving. Those who find God’s righteous ways sense that they have received a great mercy and they pass that mercy on, and receive more mercy in return. They become purer and purer in heart and become peacemakers rather than relational dividers. Because they have found God’s way, by God’s grace, they can take in any manner of persecution from a hostile world which is simply uninitiated in God’s Holy ways.
Divine logic. That’s what the Beatitudes are. God’s supernatural way of living that can come to us through His mercy and grace in the Gospel. This way of life can only come from Him. And the results are rich!
Jesus’ happiness logic bequeaths to us the Kingdom of Heaven, deep comfort, the entire earth, soul satisfaction (finally!), mercy, the ability to “see” God more clearly, the title of sons and daughters of God, while making us able to endure the rigors of relentless opposition and persecution.
Ok…but will I seek to apply this way of life? I’ve ignored a lot of logic in the past! Yup, I’m working on it, because God’s grace is so real to me now that I’m stopping longer to drink in Jesus’ truth…and once you see the truth, you can’t unsee it. Freedom!