I’ve been preaching the through the beatitudes one at a time. In each message, I insist that we resist reading the beatitudes as ethical prescriptions. They’re not the be-happy attitudes and they’re not good advice. They are declarations of good news to the broken people who have gathered around Jesus to hear him teach about the Kingdom of God.
It’s almost impossible for some of us to read the beatitudes in this way. We can’t help but see them as a to-do list from God. We’re so used to feeling guilty about everything we read in the Bible that we read them and then end up thinking about how we’re not very good at being poor in spirit or mournful or meek and then promising ourselves (and God) to do better in the future.
This is the main reason I chose to preach though the beatitudes one at a time, instead of all at once. We need practice at hearing good news. We need to be set free from the constant sense of guilt and shame we bring to and take from Scripture. We need to soak in the kingdom blessings of Jesus before we move on to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount which does present us with some jaw-dropping to-dos.