I’m continuing in Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy, and chapter four is quite interesting. Willard tackles the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12 and Luke 6:17-26)Â in an a way that I have never heard or thought of before. I’ve always thought of them as a kind of list of instructions on how to live in the Kingdom of God. Willard argues a completely different point.
While I haven’t had time to soak on his take yet, there is something about his thoughts that are ringing true. Whenever my understanding of a Biblical concept is challenged like this, I am always a bit unnerved, and excited. Read the passages above from Matthew and Luke as a refresher (or for the first time) and then consider Willard’s thoughts below.
“The Beatitudes simply cannot be ‘good news’ if they are understood as a set of ‘how-tos’ for achieving blessedness. They would then only amount to a new legalism.”
“They single out cases that provide proof that, in him, the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope.”
“They serve to clarify Jesus’ fundamental message: the free availability of God’s rule and righteousness to all of humanity through reliance upon Jesus himself, the person now loose in the world among us. They do this simply by taking those who, from the human point of view, are regarded as most hopeless, most beyond all possibility of God’s blessing or even interest, and exhibiting them as enjoying God’s touch and abundant provision from the heavens. This fact of God’s care and provision proves to all that no human condition excludes blessedness, that God may come to any person with his care and deliverance.”
“Thus by proclaiming blessed those who in the human order are thought hopeless, and by pronouncing woes over those human beings regarded as well off, Jesus opens the kingdom of the heavens to everyone.”
“But the Beatitudes is not even a list of spiritual giants. Often you will discern a peculiar nobility and glory on and among these ‘blessed’ ones. But it is not from them. It is the effulgence of the kingdom among them.”