In listening to Jesus, much of what He is saying goes against the grain of what I have thought brings happiness. It is the Jesus Manifesto.
Jesus is radical and demands that we live in a radical way. Jesus wants us to change our minds and act differently (aka repent). Jesus will accept nothing less.
God has a goal for us. Jesus takes care to summarize what some of God’s principles are.
In Matthew, we are used to the word “blessed”. The Greek word is μακάριος (makarios). That translation sounds religious.
What does it really mean. A better translation might be “happy”. Even better would be “more than happy”.
God has a plan for how we can be more than happy. Now that is some good news. The plan, however, doesn’t follow conventional wisdom. Nope, not at all.
Here are some of the things that don’t make sense in this world but lead to happiness in God’s Kingdom:
- With less of me there is more of God and his rule.
- I have to lose what is most dear to me.
- I must be content in who I am in His kingdom.
- I must be a glutton for Him spiritually. I must hunger for Him more than food.
- I must care for others, not myself.
- I must get my inside world, mind and heart, right first.
- I must show others how to cooperate not compete.
- I must be comfortable that my commitment to God will provoke persecution.
- I must please Him first.
So, there it is. It is not conventional wisdom at. It is God’s way.
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
“You’re happy when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re happy when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re happy when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re happy when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re happy when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re happy when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re happy when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re happy when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”
Matthew 5 (The Message Bible)