Debbie Salter Goodwin
The Right Side Up Life in an Upside Down World
Jesus showed us how to live as God created us to live. His teaching was like a mirror for our lives. And that’s how we must use the Sermon on the Mount—as a mirror to see ourselves as clearly as Jesus sees us.
We begin with the Beatitudes. They are poetic in their parallel construction. But it is upside down thinking for sure.
The Beatitudes teach us how to live righteously or right wise with God. God is our north star for deciding everything about life’s relationships, reversals, alliances, standards, and difficulty. We don’t take the political or cultural temperature to find out what to do. We look straight into the eyes of Jesus and hear him speak the simple lifestyle standards that we still don’t know how to live.
Let’s imagine it’s a spring day, not too cold, not too hot. Let’s imagine we have followed the crowd to the hill above Lake Galilee and we’ve found a place in the grass to sit. We can barely wait for Jesus to begin and when he does we hang on every word so that we can remember it.
He starts with the beautiful word, Blessed. We lean into the hope of it. It’s just like Jesus to startle us with a way to live now that we thought was impossible, so we listen more closely.
He says the poor and the meek have riches waiting for them that this world can’t provide. He speaks of of meekness and poverty unconnected to position and bank accounts. He reminds us that whenever we live with not-enough, we can live as the rich heirs of God with full access to His resources.
He says that those who grieve losses can find a settling comfort only God can give.
He says the same to anyone who dares to place pursing righteousness on the same level as chasing hunger. Jesus reminds us that the God-life fills and satisfies us in ways that nothing else can. When we begin to hunger for that filling and receive it, we know he speaks the truth.
He has a word for the persecuted and it is a good word. He promised that anyone persecuted for living His truth will have a companionship with His Father that surpasses the best friend we’ve ever had.
And oh how he loves to celebrate the mercy givers, the peace-makers, and the ones in whom there is no falseness. The more merciful anyone is, the more mercy they receive. The more peace someone makes, the more peace they enjoy. And the pure in heart will see God better than anyone else as they understand how God values integrity in the heart.
Can anyone live this way? I mean, really? Isn’t this a lifestyle for a perfectionist, a bean-counter? Dot the I’s and cross the t’s? Everyone of them!
But Jesus doesn’t share a way to live that is impossible. He shares the best antidote to all of this world’s brokenness. He provides help, power, encouragement, forgiveness, and cleansing. It is a redemption we cannot live without. And all he asks in return is obedience. It’s as simple and difficult as that.
I want this blessedness to characterize my life. Don’t you? However, I can only live it as Jesus lives in me by his Spirit. I can only live it as I listen to his invitation, respond to his nudges, heed his warnings, and follow his instructions.
Oh how I want to live this way. With all my heart I want this lifestyle to be mine, so I pray.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into the Beatitudes, I would like to share a short Bible study with you.
Each question will allow you to see what the rest of the Bible has to say about each of the Beatitudes. I recommend taking a question or 2 a day and make it a slow study through the week. Then, the message Jesus has for you has a chance to simmer and begin to bubble up in your life in observable ways. Isn't that the goal of Bible study?
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