Originally posted on October 17, 2019
Whether you are a Christian or not or whether you go to church regularly or not, I think the majority of folks can quote at least one or two of the 10 commandments. And, I’m sure that some of you have engaged in a debate as to whether or not they belong posted in our courthouses or town squares. So, let me ask you this: can you recite any of the Beatitudes? Do you know what the Beatitudes are? I don’t ask that to belittle anyone but to make a point that the Beatitudes are far less known that the 10 Commandments.
Go read Matthew 5:1-12. If you don’t have a Bible handy, google it. I’ll wait here …
God gave us the 10 commandments through Moses to teach us how to love God and each other and how to live in community on earth, for the greater good of all. And then God came to us as Jesus and said “I’ve come to fulfill the law” and preached the Beatitudes. Jesus shows and teaches us how to live in communion with each other on earth as it is in heaven for the greater good of God’s Kingdom.
The 10 Commandments are the basics, given to a restored people of God who needed to (re)learn what it means to live as God’s people. Jesus gives us the way to move from knowledge to wisdom, to be able to discern God’s path and plan in all situations as the world around us changes at an ever increasing rate.
The 10 Commandments seem clear enough, yet the ancient Israelites needed 613 more laws to clarify just how to follow these commandments in specific situations. And, it seems that a lot of their leaders spent far more energy trying to script loopholes to get around the laws or using the law as a weapon to restrict rather than as guidance to live a full and abundant life as God intended for them. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us a way to discern God’s will and apply God’s laws wisely as we live our life fully as the people he created us to be. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches us how to live compassionately.
Just because the 10 Commandments were engraved in stone doesn’t mean they are the last and only word of God. Even stone eventually wears out and can be destroyed. Both the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes were given to help us build relationships, not stone walls to exclude others.
God’s word imprinted in us by following Jesus is eternal. It is treasure that no one can take from us, that can’t be destroyed. Jesus gives us the opportunity to live now as it will be someday for all of creation when God sets all things right. He shows us how to live on earth as it is in heaven.
So, guess what I’m going to encourage you to do? (See how smart you are.) Read, ponder, ruminate over, and/or meditate on the Beatitudes as often as you can make time. (And let’s just clear this one piece up – “poor in spirit” does not mean to be weak or timid but to let go of our own egos so that God can refine our spirit into the image he created us all. Don’t think that Jesus is asking any of us to become passive, mindless doormats.) The more we work at seeing the world as Jesus does, the more compassionate we will become. Together with God’s help we can make the world a better place.