LANCE, TE’O & THE REST OF US – REFLECTIONS FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen some truly, I would say… “interesting?” news.  Last week cycling “great” Lance Armstrong confessed he did in fact use performance enhancing drugs and blood doping in his cancer come back to win an unprecedented 7 Tour De France titles.

The confession came after years of adamantly denying the allegations from many former competitors and teammates.  Even going so far as to take his accusers to court and question their integrity.

Lance_manti

Then we saw a most bizarre story surface.  Manti Te’o, the stand out linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist from Notre Dame came clean on the story of the death of his girlfriend.  If you are somehow unaware of the story, Te’o a senior and team captain allegedly lost both his grandmother and girlfriend during the early part of this season.

The result, a possessed Te’o played the remainder of the season in honor of his grandmother and girlfriend.  It turns out Te’o had never actually met his girlfriend because it was an online relationship.  The problem, he could never meet her because evidently she did not exist, ever.  Te’o apparently was on the losing end of a cruel hoax.

Fair enough, but he sure did not talk about her on national TV as if they had never had met.  The perception I got was one of a long time girlfriend.

In both cases these men, Armstrong more than Te’o misrepresented themselves.  They tried to portray themselves as something they were not.

Funny, we sit back in amazement wondering how they could live such a lie.  Honestly, it is the world we live in.  All of us in some way or another misrepresent ourselves from time to time.  Maybe not to this extent or in the public spotlight, but we do.

It is the reason people live in houses they can’t afford, drive cars they can’t afford and wear clothes they can’t afford.  It is the reason people act differently in different circles.  We want people to look at us favorably.  It is all about perception.  We create the perception we want people to have of us because we want to be seen (it might be helpful to read my first blog on this, Motives Matter).

Jesus warns these disciples gathered around him on a mountainside, BE CAREFUL.  Be careful not to do things to be seen by others.  Specifically, in chapter 6:1-18 be careful not to give, pray and fast to be seen.  When you do, you are portraying a relationship with God which does not exist.  Why does it not exist?  Because, you are more concerned about what others think of you than what God thinks.  Be careful!

So why the warning?  Maybe it is simple, if you misrepresent who you are, it will eventually catch up with you.  Eventually, it will all come out, ask Manti, ask Lance.  When you misrepresent yourself, you deceive people.  However the bigger problem, when you misrepresent yourself spiritually, you ultimately deceive yourself.  You fool yourself into thinking you have a right relationship with God and eventually it will catch up to you.  Jesus, goes on in Matthew 7 to remind us of this several times.

In chapter 6 Jesus tells us the “hypocrites” love to do these righteous acts in the synagogue and on the street corners to be seen by people.  Is it possible Social Media is the street corner we all stand on today?  With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other outlets we have complete control of how we want people to see us.  It is easy to misrepresent our self and deceive others into thinking we are something we are not.  Be careful Jesus would say, because you may just deceive yourself.

Think how much time and energy and money in our society is put into worrying about what others think.  Jesus was confronting a Pharisaical system which was overly concerned with other perception.  Maybe not much has changed.  Maybe it is why we struggle so greatly with confession.  We don’t want people to know who we really are because we are terrified of what they might think.  What if they found out about our struggles with anger?  With alcohol?  With pornography?  With cheating?  With lying?

The righteousness Jesus describes in chapter 5 is not rooted in “look how good I am,” but in a humbled spirit “I know who I am,” and it is far from righteous.  Maybe deep down, to hunger and thirsting for righteousness is a passionate plea to seek Him rather than others opinions.  Simply put, love God, love others because you can control that,  Don’t spend countless hours worried about what others think because you can’t control that, so stop trying to control it by convincing everyone you are something you are not.

MOTIVES MATTER – REFLECTIONS FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Growing up baseball was a huge part of my life.  I began playing at the age of 4.  I played in High School and even had the opportunity to play in college.  In High School and College the biggest desire, other than winning, is to be seen.  In high school you want to be seen by a college or pro scout.  Once in college you want to be seen by a pro scout.  Deep inside of most athletes is the desire to be able to perform at the next level.  So when someone notices your ability it is amazing.  Personally, for me, one of the most exciting days was when Coach Fullerton passed along a letter to me from a Chicago White Sox scout.

baseball_2

It was the first one I received and there was an incredible moment when I realized, someone was watching me.  I began to carry myself differently.  My mindset changed instantly.  I had so much more confidence.

We all have within us a desire to be noticed, to stand out, to be seen.  It is why we spend so much time changing clothes, asking how we look, trying to cover up our imperfections.  We want to be noticed for our looks, our clothes, our athletic ability, our intelligence, our music ability, our leadership, our planning ability, our preaching.  We all want to be noticed.  Even those who are behind the scenes, who would never want to be out front, I believe, want people to take notice of how well they do what they do.  And now with the reach of the internet, through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instangram, ect. our world revolves around the ability to let people see what we want them to see about us.  Have you seen the new State Farm Commercial?

We have the ability to control other people’s perception of us.  And honestly we love it that way.  Jesus talks about a new righteousness in chapter 5 of Matthew and leads into chapter 6 with a warning.  Be careful not to do acts of righteousness for the purpose of standing out, of being seen, because if you do the only reward you will get will be from the people who praise you for your piety.

Jesus knows us so well.  He understands our nature will be to seek praise for what we do.  If we give, there will be a tendency for us to want people to see how generous we are, or at least how generous we want them to think we are.  If we pray, we will want people to be impressed by the depth of our relationship with Christ.  If we fast, for all to know we are fasting, so they can be impressed by our devotion.  So Jesus says, BE CAREFUL!  This is a dangerous trap.

Jesus tells the first followers, be careful because Your MOTIVES MATTER!  You can say it like this…

WHY you do, WHAT you do, is just as important as what you are doing.  

But why?

The focus of these and other disciplines is to grow closer to Christ.  Period!  If you are doing it to be seen you are merely pretending.  Interestingly enough the word Jesus uses throughout this section, “hypocrite” was not a word that was made up just for the Bible; as in someone who says one thing but really does another.  Hypocrite was actually a secular Greek word that was used in the theater.  In theater a hypocrite was an actor who wears a mask.  So anyone on stage wearing a mask was a hypocrite.  So Jesus uses this word to describe a person who gives, prays or fasts for the purpose of being seen.  He says, if you are just giving so others see how spiritual you are, you are an actor, wearing a mask pretending to be someone else.  There is a danger in fooling others but there is an immense danger that you would fool yourself, that you would deceive yourself and think you are something you are not.

This deception causes two problems.  Some might see you and feel they could never be as close to God as you are, when in fact you’re not that close.  Secondly, it creates a false sense of security.  It becomes easy to look at others and say things like…

Luke 18:11-12 NIV
‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

Jesus is merely reminding his followers, you are not saved because of what you gave, how you prayed or how often you fasted.  You are saved by grace.  Stop deceiving others and yourself, making them think you are saved by your own works.  Life in Christ is not about being perfect, it is about realizing you are not perfect and are desperately in need of a savior!

STAY WITHIN THE LINES

As I have been working through the Sermon on the Mount, I have been trying to step back and look at the bigger picture.  It is easy to dissect and magnify words and phrases to the point we fail to step back and look at the whole and connections between different sections.  Before reading the remained of this post, it would be helpful to first read ERASING THE LINES OF RELIGIOUS(osity) – SERMON ON THE MOUNT to get a little more perspective on where this post is coming from.  It is kind of a part two, sort of…

diagonal lines

So there was Ryan touching the hot plate he was told not to touch; which I am quite sure each of you has done the same at one time or another.  The very next week there I was, Ryan’s dad, listening to the waitress at Barrera’s say, “the plate is extremely hot, don’t touch it,” as she sat my fish tacos right in front of me.  And of course I touched it.  Not real sure why we do this?  Do we not believe them?  Wanting to see their definition of hot?  Why?

I think the bottom line is, there is a line which has been drawn.  A don’t do this line!  Lines create tension.  Lines ALWAYS (I think) create tension.  Don’t believe me.  Go on YouTube and search Black Friday line jumpers (careful with the language).  Want to see serious tension, cut in line on Black Friday.  Or for a kindergartner trying to learn to color, there is a tension to try to stay inside the lines.

Some lines are visible.  Others invisible.

Don’t touch me or I will _____________!  A line?  Of course.

If you’re a Cowboys fan, you know there is a constant tension for the offensive lineman to control the line of scrimmage and maybe more difficult to stay on the correct side of the line prior to the snap.  Lines create tension because lines create rigidity, boundaries and structure.

Lines create an internal tension.  I can’t do this.  I can do this.  I can touch this.  I cannot look at that.  I can say this but not that.  However, lines can also create external tension.  You can’t do this.  You can’t go there.  This is ok, but not that.

When it comes to religion, there is a tendency for the lines to become even more entrenched because it is something  so important to people.  There is the internal struggle to stay within the lines, as well as the external struggle as to how others have defined the lines and their desire to impose the lines on everyone else.

Matthew 5:21-48 NIV is spoken within the context of a religious system, controlled by the Pharisees and Sadducees ,who were masters at imposing lines and boundaries on others.  Jesus is not drawing new and more difficult lines.  He is introducing a new righteousness, not one built on a system of lines but one dependent on grace.

It is the good news, it is the gospel.

It is hope for those who get angry, for those who lust, those who are divorced, those who break their word, those who seek revenge, and those who struggle to love their enemies.  But why is it hope, when we know we will fail at most of these from time to time?

Because the message is no one will ever measure up to the lines which have been created, so stop trying to.  The new righteousness Jesus is announcing comes from a heart expecting to be transformed by Jesus.  A heart seeking his heart, rather than trying to measure up to the lines.  It is not the lines that are important; it is the condition of our heart.

Maybe we ask the wrong questions?  Where is the line?  How close can I get to the line without going over?  Where there is a line there is tension.

What constitutes anger?

What is meant by “except for marital unfaithfulness.”

As you know people can get very passionate about these lines.

Is it possible Jesus is saying to these first followers, the religious leaders look great.  They follow the laws, sort of, but they are not really righteous; their hearts are messed up.  There worth and value is found in how well they measure up to, or at least look like they measure up to the lines.  Yes they haven’t killed anyone, but they have still allowed their anger to get out of control.  Instead, maybe our focus needs to be, how is this affecting my heart?

Jesus finishes this section with this statement…

Matthew 5:48 NIV

Yes we strive to be like Jesus, but we realize we are perfected by Him, because we will never perfectly measure up to the lines.  So who this is righteous, because unless your righteousness surpassing the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

Matthew 5:3-12 NIV
3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

ERASING THE LINES OF RELIGIOUS(osity) – SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Do you remember as a kid going to a restaurant with your parents, the waitress brings your food to the table, sets it in front of you and says, “Be careful, don’t touch the plate it is really hot.”  If you are like me, what did you do?  Touch the plate of course.  But why?  To see if it was really hot?  To see how hot it was?  To prove your independence?  After all she can’t tell me what to do.

Pencil erasing a mistake

It is funny, now that I am on the other side as a parent, I watch my kids testing the same boundaries.  The line is drawn and it is our human nature is to see how close we can get to the line or even if we are capable of crossing over the line without any consequences.

On Sinai God lays out the law for the people of Israel for their good.  The lines are drawn.  For centuries, and even still today, questions still arise, games are played.  Questions of how close can I get?  People trying to police the lines and blow the whistle on anyone who getting to close to the line.  People who want to sneak across the line and sneak back, hoping they are not seen by anyone else.  Make sense?  Let me clarify, God says, 13 “You shall not murder. Exodus 20:13 NIV  There is the line.  However, there is a lot you can do to someone without killing them, stopping just short of death.  Correct?  Or for instance, 14 “You shall not commit adultery.  Exodus 20:14 NIV  Then the question becomes what constitutes adultery?  How far can I go?  Where is the line?  How close can I get to it without crossing the line?  Can I cross the line without anyone else knowing?

For the centuries following Sinai, there is a constant testing of the lines, moving of the lines and times of flat out ignoring of the lines.  The Pharisees were great at this.  Not only did they test the lines, they made the lines even more demanding for everyone else.  They wanted everyone to see their piety and live in envy of how spiritually focused they were.  Now remember, it is in the context of this religious system, Jesus is calling disciples to follow him, who are not the “religious elite” of the society.

20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 NIV

Understand, Jesus says, the Pharisees look really pristine on the outside, but they are really messed up on the inside.  They follow “all” the commands, Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself (Taken from Matthew 19).   These are the lines and we have never gone over them.  We may have gotten pretty close, we may have made our own definition but in our eyes and hopefully, everyone else’s, we have never actually crossed the lines.

I have always been taught, Jesus comes along and raises the bar, draws new more difficult lines.  Calls people to a higher standard and he does.  But I wonder if we have missed Jesus point?  Take just a minute and read through the remainder of chapter 5…

Matthew 5:21-48 NIV

If we read those verses the same way we always have, what is one of the first questions we will most likely ask?  What constitutes anger?  What about when it is righteous anger?  Then am I okay?  We immediately hear these words and begin searching for the new line.  Why?  So we know where we stand.  So we know where others stand.  So we have a means to judge.  So I want to pose a few questions and thoughts for you to reflect on.

  1. What if Jesus intent is not to say here is a line, a new higher standard?  One that you cannot even live up to.  Don’t get angry, EVER?  Really?  Never lust?  Ever?  What if the intent is to simply say sin is sin and we all sin.  Whether you murder or you just fly off the handle and lose your temper.  You cannot possibly live good enough to earn salvation by your own righteousness.  What if his intent is not to create a new line to measure our self and everyone else with?  Maybe Jesus intent is to erase the lines, to get us to stop asking am I doing well enough.
  2. Either way you read it, grace becomes essential.  We all sin and the only hope we have is the redeeming love of Christ to cover our life.  The old system is based on the question of how close can I get?  Erasing the lines.  Stop trying to figure out where the line is and start trying to figure out how to get closer to Jesus.  How you can be more like Him.  Stop asking can I do this and start asking would he do this.  Allow His love to transform your heart.
  3. If it is simply about not crossing the line, it is about head knowledge and will power.  The knowledge to know and figure out where the line is and the will power to control yourself, making sure you do not cross the line.  Following Jesus is more about the heart than it is the head.  Lots of people know about Jesus, not as many have surrender their heart to Him.
  4. Whether or not there is a line, there will always be people who feel they need to police everyone else.  There will always be a tendency to compare yourself to everyone else.  To see how you measure up.  The most difficult thing about compassion, you are comparing what you know about you, with what you don’t know about someone else.  Everyone saw the Pharisees as the measuring stick of religious devotion.  Jesus says, they are not the measuring stick, I AM!  You don’t measure up by yourself, but I measure up for you.  It is about you and Jesus not you and everyone else!

Share with me your thoughts.  As you step back and look at the Sermon on the Mount, what is Jesus doing?

P.S.  As I am finishing this post my son who is 4 grabs the potato peeler and is playing with it.  We tell him to stop so he does cut himself.  He says he won’t.  You can’t cut yourself with “this” and proceeds to try to touch the blade to show us it is not sharp…  haha

YOU ARE BLESSED – IMPLICATIONS FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Last week a shared Blessed are you – Reflections from the Sermon on the Mount, and this week I wanted to follow up with a few of the possible implications. Like I said last week, much of this is still me thinking out loud and would love to hear thoughts and feedback. Understand we are on a journey, we are learning and growing. So here are a few thoughts from my journey.

sermon_on_mount

After Jesus describes this new righteousness he tells his disciples that following him will not be easy…

Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Growing up in a Church of Christ, I was basically taught what Jesus meant, those who are a part of the Church of Christ are on the narrow road and those outside the Church of Christ are on the wide road. Which if you take it to its logical conclusion the road then becomes the Church of Christ rather than way of Jesus. Maybe you experienced the same type of exclusivity within your faith tradition. Jesus is confronting within the Beatitudes, a religious system, which was elevated above God. Now of course they would never claim the system was above God, but truth be told, their system was their god. The synagogue, their savior. The reverence awarded them their hope. Their power, their salvation.

It is this system that beats people into the ground, convincing them they are not adequate of being with God. The system conveys to people, until you to become “righteous” like the rest of us, God will not notice you. The system portrays an impossible mountain to be scaled to sit at the feet of God. It is into this religious system which Jesus bring this “good news.” Jesus is challenging the assumption that those who look righteous and those who look like they have it all together, are the ones who are right with God.

It is into this system which Jesus offers hope and speaks with grace. Blessed are those who are beat down by the religious system, who don’t measure up, who aren’t “good enough,” for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn because of their own sinfulness, for they will be comforted. Blessed are those who don’t use positional power to assert their will, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who are truly desire loving God and loving others, for they will be filled. Blessed are those who show mercy to others, who don’t hold peoples pasts over their heads for they will receive mercy. Blessed those who seek peace and unity among other believers rather than creating more divisions, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are trying desperately to live righteous lives, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It seems for the entirety of Jesus ministry, he stood in opposition to the religious organizations of his day. Why? Because their organization valued power over people. It valued prestige over humility. It valued outward appearance over the heart. So, why do the beatitudes still matter to us in 2012, just as they did the day Jesus spoke them on the mountainside to the crowd?

  1. Outward appearance is easy to fix, in fact we are quite good at it in our culture today. In fact our churches are filled with people who look amazing from a distance, but when you take the time to get close, you really start to see the cracks and imperfections. This good news is sent to those who embrace the brokenness.
  2. For church leaders, pastors and shepherd’s it is easy to fix the outside of people. It is an entirely different matter to help them fix the inside. For one it is messy, none of us are as shinny as we hope we appear. When, as a church we try to be, it creates a seemingly impossible mountain to climb to be right with God. As people come into our churches they see something or someone “they” could never be.
  3. Everyone, especially leaders, want to be great at what they do. We want to win; we want the biggest and the best. Ultimately, we want to appear to, at the very least, be adequate before God. We are so conditioned, by the world to live on a point system basis. We are constantly measuring our self. When we measure our self against other people, we are comparing what we know about our self, with what we don’t know about the other person.
  4. No one wants to be broken, and if we are broken we, at the very least, don’t want others to know we are broken. But the good news of blessing was to broken people. It was to the ones who were being persecuted for not playing the religious game. It was to the ones trying to live Godly and righteous lives in the midst of a system built on power and oppression.

The Kingdom of God is built on two simple commands, love God and love people. This is true righteousness. This is to be sought after. To follow Jesus is truly humbling because it means forsaking your kingdom to be a part of building his.

Matthew 5:20 NIV
20
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

BLESSED ARE YOU – REFLECTIONS FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Over the last couple of months I have lived in chapter 5 of Matthew.  Never have I spent so much time in one place in scripture, working through and memorizing.  I have been amazed at the new insights that have surfaced.  So see my understanding deepen.  To this point I have completely committed Matthew chapter 5 to memory.

What has really amazed me are the insights I am gaining weeks and months later on certain sections.  Things I worked through 2 months ago begin to take on new shapes as I continue to add new pieces to the puzzle.  Even more importantly I am beginning to see the world around me afresh, as I look through new lenses.

NIV  Matthew 5:1-11
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I have heard lesson after lesson on the Beatitudes, they typically have all leaned this direction…  If you want to be a part of the Kingdom of God you need to learn to behave this way… and fill in the blank.  In other words it becomes about you shifting your attitudes to and nature to conform with God’s way of life.

The more I have dug into this passage, especially in light of Matthew 5:12-16 & 17-20 the more I am convinced, we may have in some ways missed the point of what Jesus is communicating.  What if we were to read the first 20 verses through the lens of a religious system which Jesus is confronting rather than rather than everyday life.  Jesus is announcing a new kingdom here on earth; a new kingdom which most of the world will reject.  Before Jesus gets into our understanding of the law and the prophets, before he starts talking about being salt and light, he wants these disciples to understand they will be rejected if they live the way he is fixing to challenge them to live through the rest of this sermon.  It is an announcement of hope and an announcement of heart ache.  It is the pronouncement of blessing in the midst of hardship.  It is a new kingdom that will infringe on peoples understanding of who God is and probably more so, infringe on who they are and what they posses.

Verses 1 through 10 focus is very indirect.  Jesus is calling those who will follow him to understand there will be a price you will pay.  Why, because this kingdom will stand in direct opposition of all who are trying to further their own kingdom.  However, by paying the price, living in differently you will find unspeakable blessing.  Jesus then ties a nice little bow on the package for the disciple in verse 11 and the focus of the passage now becomes very direct.  Now, blessed are YOUBlessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  In other words if you are willing to follow my teachings, you should expect insults, persecution and lies to be pointed at you.  Persecution for what?  Persecution which comes because of your relationship with Jesus.

But why would your relationship with him bring difficulty, because the poor in spirit, the meek, the pure in heart, all seem pretty non-threatening to me.  Honestly, is there any characteristic in verse 1 through 10 which seem even remotely threatening?  So why persecution?  I think the answer really lies in verse 17-20.

Matthew 5:17-20 NIV
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Pharisees and Teachers of the law would see Jesus as a false teacher, one who was abandoning God’s law and had to be stopped.  Not only was Jesus, in their eyes, a threat to God’s divine plan, probably even more so, Jesus threatened the Pharisees and Teachers of the law because within their system they were set up as god’s.  They had the power, they were able to add to the law, they had control, and they had the money.  People looked at them and felt being people of God was impossible in light of how these men looked from a distance.  Jesus kingdom however, would directly oppose their kingdom.  This new kingdom Jesus was inviting people to be a part of would threaten the system of control the Pharisees and teachers were building because it was a system that exalted the powerful.  In this new kingdom the avenue to God the Father was not the religious elite, but an avenue which was open to all.

In this system, righteousness was all about appearance.  So maybe we could better describe verse 1 through 10 as the new righteous.  Jesus concludes verse 20, saying the ones who appear to be righteous, the Pharisees and Teachers of the law, really aren’t and if you buy into their system, striving for self preservation, power and control, then you will not enter the kingdom.  Now, this has numerous implications for us today as followers of Jesus, which I will tackle in part 2.

I am still working through so much of this in my own head and it seems like things are shifting daily.  This is simply an avenue to work through and try to sort out these thoughts.  I would love to hear your insights and thoughts from the Beattitudes.