The Beatitudes--a Paraphrase
by Ken Shuman, DMin, HGST Assistant Professor of Pastoral Leadership Over the last several months I’ve been reflecting on the beatitudes of Jesus. The more I reflect, the more I find them to be challenging and life altering. The teachings of Jesus are occurring to me as more radical and more counter culture that I had previously imagined. I’ve tried to think of the beatitudes in practical ways and to use language that is more common. I’ve written my own paraphrase that reflects my thinking and study. I believe that this paraphrase reflects the original language and message.
- Happy, satisfied, and fully alive – are the humble, the unpretentious, those who don’t think they are superior to others, who don’t have contempt for anyone, who aren’t condescending and aren’t full of themselves – for they experience the God designed, heavenly life right now - they live in the bright new world.
- Happy, satisfied and fully alive are those who face loss and mourn – those who don’t hide or distance from loss, grief, and pain- those who lament injustice in the world – for they will be comforted.
- Happy, satisfied and fully alive are the non-aggressive, non-violent and the non-vengeful. Those whose power is under control will inherit the earth and enjoy the fruits of peace.
- Happy, satisfied and fully alive are those who long for everyone to be treated justly and fairly - those who desire everyone to have enough and for none to be afraid for they will be satisfied as they take action and make things happen.
- Happy, satisfied, and fully alive are those who are merciful – those who identify with the needy and show solidarity with the oppressed – those who are generous, and forgiving – those who are filled with compassion and moved to help - for they will receive mercy in return.
- Happy, satisfied, and fully alive are those who are utterly sincere and completely genuine – those who are undivided within and are without lies and deception – those whose secret self and public self are one self- for they will see God.
- Happy, satisfied and fully alive are the peacemakers – those who forgive, reconcile, and unify - those who take a stand against non-peace and injustice and work to restore wholeness and well-being for all – for they will be known as the children of God because they accurately reflect the character of God.
- Happy, satisfied, and fully alive are those who live the radical, counter-cultural, Jesus way of life and as a result are ridiculed - for they experience the God designed, heavenly life right now – they live in the bright new world.
Matthew 5:3-10 – a paraphrase by Ken Shuman
I’ve determined to read these beatitudes daily for the next few weeks. I am listening for God to speak through these words. Typically, one beatitude, one phrase, or one word will stand out for me. I reflect on the idea, and I seek to live out the beatitude as best I can for the rest of the day.
I believe that the beatitudes reflect “the way of Jesus.” By living the beatitudes, I believe that I’m living my life the way Jesus would live my life, if Jesus was me. As a bonus, living life this way allows me to experience the “fully alive,” abundant life that Jesus promised.
I invite you to join me in this practice to see what God will do in us, together.