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Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount

Then Jesus began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. — Matthew 5:2-11

Keith Leach

Many people have spoken words that changed the way we look at our world. Abraham Lincoln’s 168- word “Gettysburg Address” comes to mind. I also think of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech and his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as examples of words so powerful that people’s thoughts changed in the very hearing of them. The “Declaration of Independence” is another statement that changed how people all over the world view government.

With all that said, I do believe that the words in the Sermon on the Mount may be the most confusing and yet freeing words ever spoken. They speak to not only government and/ or institutions changing, but also the way that we see others, our God and ourselves. It instructs us to see what is “good” in a very different way. These words direct us to not only change our actions but to change our very thoughts of what is good and bad, what it is to be truly blessed by our God. This beautiful prose confronts and dares us to become people who live for God. They call to change how we think about living and how we treat one another.

I truly believe that if we take these words to heart, we are living into blessedness right now and forever. I also believe that they are countercultural. Being blessed is not for everyone. However, on the rare occasions I pull it off, it gives me hope to try for every day. Thanks be to God!

KEITH LEACH is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at kleach@hsc.edu.