Adult Object Lesson: The Beatitudes
Today’s object is a box. We tend to like our world so that everything is sorted out and kept where we know things are. This applies to our ideas as well as our canned goods, garden tools, and clothing.
Today’s scripture is one of the more difficult scriptures to understand. Unlike some of the tougher scriptures, the passage from Matthew, known as The Beatitudes, is one of the better-known scriptures.
It was among the verses we memorized as children back when children were expected to memorize key scriptures. The Ten Commandments, The Creation, Psalm 23 and then The Beatitudes.
We memorize verses that are part of the arsenal of our faith. We know the day will come when they’ll need them.
- “Love one another.”
- “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
- “Though shalt not bear false witness.”
- “Honor they father and thy mother.”
- “Yea, though I walk through the valley . . . ”
The Beatitudes aren’t like that.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you.
Huh? Why do these verses resonate with us?
None of us as children had a clue what the words we were regurgitating meant! And yet, we felt a sense of comfort.
But, who hasn’t felt meek and persecuted?
It’s nice of God to notice!
We are still in the season of Epiphany. Epiphany includes the scriptures that reveal the nature of God. That’s what the Beatitudes are all about. The Beatitudes belong here.
Jesus is teaching his favorite subject. Most of the parables are stories that teach about the kingdom of God. The Beatitudes are, perhaps, the broadest discourse on the topic that has survived to reach our ears today.
Each of the eight beatitudes tells us something about heaven. Jesus is encouraging us to think beyond our earthly experience and expectations.
“Think outside the box, people. The kingdom of God is not like an earthly kingdom. The knights of this roundtable will not be quite so sure of themselves as they vie for favored status. Mark my words, folks. In God’s Kingdom, there is room for those that would never stand in honor before an earthly throne.”
In God’s kingdom, there is room for those with doubts. There is room for those who are weak with grief. You wallflowers over there—there is room for you, too. Seekers, there is room at the table for you. There is room for those who don’t know it all and for those who have power but choose to show mercy. There is room for those who can turn away from the temptations of a popular, comfortable and self-centered life. There is room for those who might go out on a limb to stop the misuse of power. Blessed are those who suffer because they fought for what they believe when they were the only ones who believed it. There is room in heaven for those who take the fall.
The ways of heaven are not the ways of powermongers on earth. Those who achieve earthly power would take advantage of the weak and persecuted. Many would watch while others are mistreated—even in the Church.
But here we are, stuck for the moment on earth. While we are stuck we can practice thinking outside our earthly expectations. The Beatitudes help us do just that.
Think outside that box! Make it a habit.