It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed—this, despite the gospel. —Howard Thurman
Brian Zahnd, in his book Beauty Will Save The World, says:
The Beatitudes are deliberately designed to shock us. If we’re not shocked by the Beatitudes, it’s only because we have tamed them with a patronizing sentimentality—and being sentimental about Jesus is the religious way of ignoring Jesus! Too often the Beatitudes are set aside into the category of “nice things that Jesus said that I don’t really understand.”
Here is Zahnd’s paraphrase of the Beatitudes…
Blessed are those who are poor at being spiritual,
For the kingdom of heaven is well-suited for ordinary people.
Blessed are the depressed who mourn and grieve,
For they create space to encounter comfort from another.
Blessed are the gentle and trusting, who are not grasping and clutching,
For God will personally guarantee their share when heaven comes to earth.
Blessed are those who ache for the world to be made right,
For them the government of God is a dream come true.
Blessed are those who give mercy,
For they will get it back when they need it most.
Blessed are those who have a clean window in their soul,
For they will perceive God when and where others don’t.
Blessed are the bridge-builders in a war-torn world,
For they are God’s children working in the family business.
Blessed are those who are mocked and misunderstood for the right reasons,
For the kingdom of heaven comes to earth amidst such persecution.
The Beatitudes are the antithesis of what America has come to adore. —Shane Claiborne