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What the Beatitudes Teach

What the Beatitudes Teach
by Tod Lindberg
Monday, July 30, 2007
…If no one persecutes people for following the teaching of Jesus, then the
category of the “persecuted” disappears. If no one persecutes those who seek
righteousness, then this category, too, disappears. And if the response to the
poor in spirit is not to show contempt for them but to uplift them, to encourage
them to find the value in their lives that they have somehow lost sight of, then
that category, too, disappears. Thus, these three categories of the blessed for
which Jesus makes promises only with regard to heaven disappear entirely
wherever the Jesusian teaching takes root on earth. This explains why Jesus
assigns no earthly reward for people in these three categories. His silence
anticipates that once people follow his guidance there will be no one left in
these conditions. His ambitious political agenda is to rid the world of both
persecuted and persecutors — opposite sides of the coin of persecution.
In the world, we will always have among us those in mourning and the gentle;
we will always have need of those who desire righteousness, of those who are
merciful, of those who act out of pure intentions, and of those who seek
peace. But if or when the world is organized in accordance with the principles
embedded in the lives of those Jesus here deems “blessed,” we will no longer
have the persecuted and the unvalued, nor their persecutors and tormentors.
The Jesusian political agenda is thus organized around the pursuit of
righteousness by those who are able — at potential risk to their own lives —
for the sake of a world in which the unvalued (including they themselves when
they are persecuted) are at last fully valued as human beings.
Tod Lindberg is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford
University, and editor of Policy Review. This essay is excerpted from his new
book, The Political Teachings of Jesus (HarperCollins).