The Beatitudes – A Radical Contrast


In the beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) we see that many of our cultural norms are often in direct opposition to a godly life. Jesus presents a set of values that is in stark contrast to worldly values.

For part of this week’s sermon at Northbrook I imagined what it may look like if the world produced a set of beatitudes corresponding to Jesus’s words. I thought through what the world views as important, fun, or successful. Seeing these side by side showed me the radical difference between what Jesus says leads to a blessed life and what the world says leads to a blessed life.

Where do you see your own values? Is it easy to follow the trends of our culture? Read these beatitudes and ask yourself what the blessed life really looks like.

Jesus’s view of the Blessed life –

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
  • Blessed are those who mournfor they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meekfor they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
  • Blessed are the mercifulfor they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heartfor they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakersfor they will be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Now contrast these with my interpretation of worldly beatitudes.

The World’s view of the Blessed life –

  • Blessed is a self-made-man, because they have built their own kingdom.­
  • Blessed are your social media posts, because you always look perfect.
  • Blessed are the ruthless, because they get what they want.
  • Blessed are those who hunger for the newest iPhone, because you will be the envy of your friends.
  • Blessed are the powerful, because they receive respect.
  • Blessed are online dating app users, for they will see a good time.
  • Blessed are those who win at all costs, for they will be called successful.
  • Blessed are the celebrities, because everybody loves them.

It is truly striking when you dwell on these words. What our culture tells us to pursue, Jesus flips it totally on its head! It is no wonder unbelievers consider us fools. Look at the subjects of each sentence in Jesus’s words. The worldly man has no desire to be characterized by such descriptions, it would be an insult and an embarrassment.

Yet, the follower of Jesus…

  1. Understands his/her total dependence on God – vs. 3-5. Being poor, mournful and meek is not Christian depression, but rather seeing our sinfulness for what it is and then taking our eyes off ourself as if we could be good enough to earn God’s love.
  2. Is filled with godliness, vs. 6-8. Living according to God’s ways (righteousness, mercy, purity) truly is the best way to live.
  3. Is actively living this out in our world, vs. 9-12. As we are on display we become peacemakers by introducing others to the One who made peace with God, and yet we can be persecuted for shining light in the darkness.

Seek the blessed life today as you encounter these words of Jesus!