During the 3-day visit, Dr. Patrick mentioned the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 several times throughout his talks, explaining that his life took a drastic turn when he first meditated on this passage many years ago, and since then almost not a single day goes by without him thinking about some aspect of the Beatitudes.
Dr. Patrick believes that the Sermon on the Mount is about the difference between a disciple of Christ and a mere believer. Since discipleship (“abiding in Christ”) is the theme for Veritas this year, this message is very timely for students as well as for parents.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. We are blessed when we ask God to show us what our hearts look like. It’s never good news, if we are honest. But that’s the beginning of the kingdom of heaven. C. S. Lewis captured this point well in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy. When he received his first degree at Oxford, he continued to pursue his second degree. At that time, he came into a circle of about six students, including two students, who along with Lewis would change the spiritual landscape of England for the next 50 years. Within a few weeks of meeting them, the two students convinced Lewis that he is a fool to remain an atheist. Lewis realized for the first time that the human mind could not have come from mindlessness in the universe. Lewis got down on his knees and acknowledged to God, “I am a zoo of ambition, a bedlam of ambition, a harem of lust. My name is legion.” He did not yet become a Christian until a few weeks later. He was coming to terms with the poverty of his spirit.
When we are dead honest with ourselves, we inevitably end up getting to the source of all truth, which is Christ himself, which is at the heart of the Kingdom of Heaven. When we are honest to ourselves, and teach our children to be honest, the rest of our lives will change. Teach your children, “Please don’t ever lie to me.” And whenever your children tell the truth, celebrate first.
Blessed are those who mourn. It’s not enough to see the truth about ourselves. We need to repent. Can we repent? We usually avoid saying sorry in a sincere way. Or we say it in a superficial way to manipulate the hearer. But Jesus teaches that repentance is something God gives. In the story of Cornelius, we know that he came to repent when he found out that the gift of repentance is given to the Gentiles. In other words, we are able to repent only when we realize that it is by God’s grace that we can repent. Lewis says that repentance is not something we do; it is simply a description of what coming to God is like.
As a result, Jesus promises comfort. Lewis wrote famously, “Joy is a perfume that is left behind when God passes by.” Christian joy has nothing whatsoever to do with your situation at the time. He can overwhelm you with joy any time, any where, any place.
Blessed are the meek. Meekness should not be confused with weakness. The Greek word praeis is associated with a word which describes a horse that has been broken in, trained, and ready to be ridden into the battle. When you wake up and begin the day, begin with the prayer, “Lord, ride me into the battle.” It is a tremendously relieving prayer. Sensitive to the slightest touch by the rider, we just need to take the next step, and leave the result to the wisdom of the master.
As a result, Jesus promises that we will inherit the earth. We inherit love, joy, peace, etc, Christ’s full presence on this earth.
When I first heard of Dr. Patrick’s testimony on the Beatitudes about 3 years ago, it was a time of awakening in my life, opening me up to greater level of freedom and joy. Parents, please share this with your children and pray with them, “Lord, help me to be honest about my brokenness, help me to grieve over my sins in the light of your forgiveness, and ride me into the battle every day.”