In “The Good and Beautiful Life” by James Bryan Smith, the author talks about a young man who was called up to give his testimony at a church. The young man won many medals from competing in the special Olympics, and he might have won a few more if he did not stop to help the other runners who were struggling. The young man attributed his happiness to God, and to Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. He struggled with a disability, but at the same time he found himself welcome in Gods kingdom. He saw no need to compete because he knew everyone was on the same team, where everyone wins.
The author uses the chapter to explain the Beatitudes. The blessings listed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3–11).
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The author first thought the Beatitudes were meant to impress God, however, Jesus actually used these to bring the kingdom of heaven to Earth. Originally, “Those who would enter the kingdom of God comprised an exclusive club: they were Jewish, male, religiously upright, healthy and wealthy. Jesus’ ministry ran counter to this narrative. Jesus blessed the poor, touched lepers, healed and forgave gentiles (even female gentiles).”
The Pharisees criticized Jesus for associating with known sinners and non-jews. Mathew 21:31 quotes Jesus, saying “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Jesus was able to make those statements because he is a living expression of the kingdom. At the time of his te
Jesus is saying “well off are the people who feel marginalized from God, and have nothing going for them spiritually – for they too are invited into the kingdom.” The people are not blessed for their circumstances, but because of Jesus. There is a comfort in the kingdom because God is in control. At the same time, God also accepts the rich, but there is a point where wealth, power, and possessions can numb us to our need for God and make us overlook the needs of others. The wealthy are encouraged to live out the fruits of their labor, but they must also have a concern for the poor. The divide between people was very strong during that time, as it is today.
The Soul Training Excercise for the chapter talks about how living in the kingdom involves loving others, forgiving others, and practicing hospitality. Each of us makes decisions on who will be included and excluded from our lives, and so the aim is to venture outside your comfort zone and open yourself up to another person, maybe connect with someone you have never met. The results are surprising.
It’s the week of my 23rd birthday in March and I am home coughin
A member of our church passed away a month ago and a big televised funeral was held for him, commemorating his generosity and humbleness in the face of his Christian faith. Despite everything, he was still remembered because of his works. I hate to say the money was brought up over and over. He was a true friend, and he gave lots of money to education. We do not all have the sort of money and influence he had, but at the same time there are many small ways we can reach out and make a difference. You can volunteer for a few hours a week instead of watch Netflix, or smile and say hello to someone in passing. The only thing we have to do is be willing to reach out and take a chance.
– James –