The Beatitudes Revisited: A Philosophy of Living

(Transcribed and edited from an online presentation given at the 24-hour Online Urantia Event, March 21, 2020)

It was early afternoon in mid-January, A.D. 27, when Jesus called the apostles from their fishing nets near the shores of Galilee and led them into the highlands north of Capernaum. The chosen twelve were about to be ordained as public preachers of the gospel of the kingdom. As Andrew, Simon Peter, James and John Zebedee, Philip, Nathaniel, Matthew, Thomas, James and Jude Alpheus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot were seated about Jesus, he told them,

And it will not be so much by the words you speak as by the lives you live that men will know you have been with me and have learned of the realities of the kingdom [Paper 140:1.7, page 1569.4]

Then the twelve knelt in a circle about him and he ordained each one in a solemn and sacred ceremony placing the affairs of the divine brotherhood of man under the direction of human minds [140:2.3].

Jesus then spoke to them saying:

Happy are the poor in spirit, the humble, for theirs are the treasures of the kingdom of heaven.

Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

And even so speak to my children these further words of spiritual comfort and promise:

Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Happy are they who weep, for they shall receive the spirit of rejoicing.

Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

Happy are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

[Paper 140:3, page 1570]

Jesus began his public teaching with the ordination of his twelve apostles, and the beatitudes formed a part of his ordination sermon. Then, over three years later, on a bright April afternoon in A.D. 30, Jesus appeared in morontia form among the eleven remaining apostles and re-enacted the ordination scene before ascending to the Father. Jesus began and ended his teaching with the beatitudes, which suggests they must be important guidelines for how to live our daily lives.

The beatitudes are not the gospel of Jesus, but rather a philosophy of living. The gospel that Jesus spent three years going around the countryside preaching is simple—The Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. The Universal Father is our creator and the Source of all that is real. Our Creator Father is spirit, and therefore, true reality is spiritual.

Our physical bodies are temporary learning tools, they are living, finely balanced, biochemical-energy mechanisms. Our physical forms come in various genders, shapes, and skin colors. And as physical, chemical-energy mechanisms, they are subject to disease, the accidents of time, and the changes of aging. Eventually the physical mechanism wears out and dies. But the personality that used that material body does not die. Free will allows us to believe whatever we want, but we do not have the power to change the reality of that which our Father created.

“For in him, we live and move and have our being.” That which God creates cannot die unless he wills it, and it is the Father’s will that not even one of his beloved children be lost. How could it be his will to lose part of himself? We who are thoughts of God have never been simply a physical form. God is the Creator, and it is from him we come into being. Our personalities are bestowed by the Source of all personality, God the Father. We are God’s children. If we accept this reality, then we will live our everyday lives in such a way that we represent that reality to others, and we will respond to others by recognizing that they are also the children of God and our “brothers” in the family of our Creator.

It is by our response to life’s experiences large and small that we show that we have accepted our true nature and are striving to begin the journey to “be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect.” God does not expect us to achieve perfection in this life on earth, only to love him enough to begin the mental and spiritual journey towards him, and to embrace the goal of personality fusion with the spiritual gift the Father has given to each of us—our Thought Adjuster.

Recall that Judas Iscariot had three years of personal teaching and intimate association with Jesus. He was a chosen and ordained apostle. Alongside the other eleven apostles, Judas taught about the kingdom of heaven for three full years. He personally witnessed Jesus’ many miracles, even the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Judas’ story is a good reminder that we, and only we, choose our attitudes and our life goals. We and only we are in charge of training our minds to align with the spirit of God that dwells within us. Free will truly is sovereign. God himself will not interfere with our free will choice to either accept or reject true reality. We have been given guidance and advice—Jesus’ personal gift of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, and God the Father’s gift of a fragment of his spirit, the Thought Adjuster, as well as the further ministry of the angels, and so much more. And now, we also have been given the gift of the fifth epochal revelation. It is our personal choice as to whether or not we will align our minds with the will of the Father and live our lives accordingly.

Jesus, who was as fully human as us (as well as a divine being), and who lived among the people of the first century as one of them, knew from personal experience about verbal abuse, ridicule, gossip, betrayal, unfairness, hopelessness, misunderstandings and even physical abuse. Yet he still says that the way to a peaceful, happy life in all circumstances is to love one another as I have loved you. Even with the physical pain of nails being pounded into his hands and feet, Jesus says Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do. As with his whole life, Jesus was teaching us by words, deeds and finally a dramatic example that no matter what the provocation, as children of God, we are to respond to our brothers with love and forgiveness.

The beatitudes are an attitude to cultivate—a philosophy of everyday living—but the way they are phrased is more 1st century than 21st. So, let’s review them and rephrase them in modern language. The first four refer to a cultivation of faith attitudes, our attitude toward God and Truth.

Happy are the poor in spirit—the humble

This may be better phrased as: Happy are the open-minded, the teachable and truth seeking.

There is a reason that Jesus began the beatitudes with this one. We must be willing to open our minds to spiritual growth and change. When Jesus was in Rome, he and Ganid encountered a man who was not hungry for truth and Jesus did not engage in conversation with the man. He said to Ganid, You cannot reveal God to those who do not seek for him; you cannot lead unwilling souls into the joys of salvation. [Paper 132:7.2, page 1466.2] We have to WANT to learn in order to grow in spirit. Our lives will be happier if we accept that we are “poor in spirit”—that we need to seek intellectual and spiritual truths.

Those who think they have all the answers cannot be taught. That is why Jesus said we should “become like little children.” Little children recognize that they do not understand what they perceive, and so they ask what it means. Children’s minds are malleable, teachable; they want to learn. They know they don’t have all the answers. Children want to find the right way of doing things. Being open-minded is also being willing to admit when we make a mistake and cheerfully try it again. We must want to learn and grow spiritually.

Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled

May be phrased as: Happy are they who want to seek God’s will and do the right thing.

We have been given a perfect guide, our Thought Adjuster. The strength of God lives within us only if we are willing to place our minds under the Holy Spirit’s direction. We should be confident that if we are willing to seek for the right way forward, we will find it. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…” We need to train our minds to be open, listening for the most loving way forward. This beatitude asks us to “seek the will of the Father” before acting.

When we are verbally attacked by another child of God, it is important to not give into the temptation to respond with anger. Remembering in the heat of the moment who we are and who our brother is, we will respond in the spiritual strength of love and compassion. If we try to seek the will of God before acting, we will find the appropriate words and thoughts.

It can be fun to try to find the right way of responding to a challenging situation. There is a tremendous sense of happiness, of rightness, when we know we have done the best we can do. But it is difficult to remember when faced with an angry person to ask yourself, “How would Jesus respond; what is God’s will here?” By perceiving the need for love in another who has attacked you, and by being determined to supply the love he obviously needs to assuage his pain, is to experience the spiritual triumph of love. You have to hunger for, to want, that right way of living each day. However, if we do try to seek the will of God before proceeding, we will immensely add to the joy of our everyday living. We shall be filled.

Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

May be phrased as: Happy are they who cultivate a trust in God.

This beatitude refers to our faith in a friendly universe. Meekness in this sense does not refer to fear, but rather a sense of confidence and trust that all things do work for good in a universe whose First Source and Center is absolute goodness. It is an attitude of cooperation with God’s plan. This faith attitude seems the hardest for our fact-seeking culture to embrace. We do not have to control every outcome. And we tend to have a finite, short-term view. Just because we cannot see the end from the beginning, this should not diminish our faith in the care of our Father in heaven. We need to be patient and trust that God does have our long-term, best interests at heart, no matter what things look like in the present. Do we not have the best interest of our own children at heart when we plan things? How much more so does our perfect Parent have our best interests close to his heart. We need to trust him. Love is more powerful than fear, and intelligently applied love can dissolve fear.

Nothing exists outside of the reality of God, all physical reality, and all spiritual reality exists within God. In him does the entire universe live, move, and have its being. God is Spirit and God is Love.

Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

May be phrased as: Happy are they who are naturally trustful of others, for they shall acquire spiritual insight.

It is important to develop an attitude of trusting each other to do the right thing, rather than being cynically suspicious that people are out to take something from us or deceive us. This seems like a fine idea until someone attacks you. In our time and culture, attacks are usually verbal rather than physical. Our human instinctive response is usually anger and a desire for revenge. When you feel hurt by someone, you want to hurt him back. In our human mind, justice and fairness seem to demand that we respond in kind—“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Yet many of us have had enough life experiences to know that if we give in to this idea, our professional and relationship problems will only escalate. God does not ask us to give up thinking but, as his children, to apply his gift of spiritual help to the situation at hand. Love can be intelligent.

There is not an instant that you are not a child of God, neither is there an instant when your brother is not. To truly realize that we are children of God, we must extend that belief to another—to see God within them despite their behavior at any moment. No matter what you believe, you cannot change reality. You are a child of God and so is your brother, even if you perceive that he or she is behaving badly. When we look for the best in our fellow men, we will find it in them and within ourselves. We can inspire others by our trust in them to live up to their fullest potential. Truth is always stronger than error. Expect to see the good in others.

We do not make others better by telling them how bad they are. That is especially true for our children. When we acquire spiritual insight, we love others with a fatherly love, as God loves them. The final commandment Jesus gave the night before he died, Love one another even as I have loved you [180:6.0, emphasis added]. Let us resolve to understand and experience our brothers as beloved sons of God, no matter what their behavior.

The next four beatitudes point out the reactions of a fatherly love, a Jesus type of love, toward others.

Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted

May be phrased as: Happy are the sympathetic, for they shall attain genuine and lasting joy.

It is important to cultivate a sensitivity to the needs of others. Having an emotional attitude of tenderhearted understanding for each other is the path to joy. As we grow from childhood to adulthood, both physically and spiritually, we should try to expand our awareness to include the needs and wants of others. As adults, we realize that to truly love someone or even be a friend to another, we must acquire an awareness of their desires and needs. “How can I help?” is the approach we want to take with others. Instinctive kindness will safeguard our souls from the destructive influences of cynicism and suspicion.

As you teach, so shall you learn. If you react with anger to a verbal attack, you are teaching anger. That is not what a child of God wants to teach. If you temporarily forget who you are, just mentally tell yourself “oops” and ask your Thought Adjuster what to do. Admit your mistake, learn from it, and go forward with spiritual courage, determined to respond lovingly next time. We have the power of God, the Father’s spirit within us. We just have to remember to ask for help in the moment of challenge.

Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy

Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

This beatitude needs no rewording. Forgiveness and mercy are active, not passive, reactions to life’s injustices.

Of course, we will encounter unfairness, verbal abuse, cowardly verbal attacks, misunderstandings, and maybe even physical injury. This is an imperfect world filled with imperfect beings—God’s children are on a journey to spiritual perfection. None of us have arrived yet. Our Father forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. God, as our perfect Father, forgives us instantly, each and every time we make a mistake. However, we will not feel forgiven, we cannot access his forgiveness until we forgive those we are holding a grudge against.

In spiritual reality, giving and receiving are the same. You cannot give what you do not already have, but to realize you have it, you must give it to another. Spiritual reality has rules just as physical reality has rules. Love only includes, it never excludes. You cannot give what you do not have and so you must recognize another human being as a child of God to truly believe that you are a child of God—holy, beautiful, and good as our Father created you. To have the realization: “I am a child of God,” we must believe that our brother is also beloved by the Father.

God only gives of his love and mercy, he cannot give what he is not. God is love. So spiritual reality can only function by being given away. Love only includes, it never excludes.

When you forgive a perceived injury, you remember who you are, a child of he who is mercy. If you respond to a verbal attack with a defensive verbal attack of your own, you have temporarily forgotten who you are. If someone is verbally attacking you, often it is that they fear they are not being appreciated enough.

There are three ways to respond to that kind of angry-fear attack:

First, you can try to defend yourself… attack back. Bad move, as that not only validates the attack, but you have just demonstrated that you actually believe you can be attacked. As a child of God, you cannot really be hurt. Especially by verbal slings and arrows! Second, you can withdraw from the encounter if you recognize that you cannot engage effectively.

However, the third method is the most productive. If in that instant, you are aware of your reality as a child of the God of Love, you can respond to the fear in another with the power of the Love of God. Let it flow through you to your brother. Then your love and compassion might dissolve the fear that is causing the mistaken attack of a brother, and actually help them realize who they are—your brother in the love of our Father. Love dissolves fear. Truth is stronger than error. Peace of mind is ours for the asking but, to get it, we cannot hold back our mercy from anyone for any reason.

Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God

Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

Once again, this beatitude needs no rewording. What could be better than to be recognized as a son of God, one who honors his Father’s name? This beatitude refers to a mental attitude of peace cultivation. When we allow our minds to harbor fear and anger it ceases to function as God created it to and we cannot think clearly. We alone make the choice to allow the resentment and anger to reside there, no one has control of our thoughts but us. Remember, free will is sovereign. The longer we indulge in these conflicting thoughts, the less we will be able to find a clear solution to our problems. We simply cannot use our mind rightly unless it is used as our Father created it to be used – peacefully, lovingly, intelligently balanced.

The mind must be joined to spirit for us to find the right path through life’s various crises. Jesus promised, “My peace I leave with you.” We may ask at any time for the mind that was in Jesus to help us. He has sent us the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. All we have to do is ask for the peace of God and prepare our minds so the Spirit of Truth can come in, and then we will truly be able to balance our whole personality and shine forth as the “sons of God” that we actually are.

Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

May be phrased as: Happy are they who are loyal to truth, beauty, and goodness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus’ gospel is not for wimps. He tells us to,

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. And whatsoever you believe that I would do to men, do you also to them [Paper 140:3.15, page 1571.2].

When someone calls you names or gossips behind your back and causes you grave professional or relationship harm, you are supposed to respond with love and forgiveness. That kind of response to verbal or physical abuse by others is hard to practice either individually or by a social group. It requires spiritual courage and mental awareness to choose an intelligent, loving response in the face of verbal abuse. It requires daily practice. When someone yells profanities at you while driving, or your spouse shouts at you at home, or your boss denigrates you at work, it is very difficult to even remember that you are a child of God, let alone remember that the person yelling is also beloved by the Father.

Sometimes we get fearful and angry. We are tense and frustrated, we feel we are not appreciated enough at work, or we get caught in a traffic jam on the way home. Then, when we get home, we find some petty thing out of order and blow up, taking out our irritations on someone else. Do these scenarios sound familiar? Yet it is in our response to these small situational challenges that we hone our spiritual and mental skills to cope with life’s larger issues.

This beatitude is a call for faithfulness to Truth, to God, in the face of opposition. It encourages us to cultivate a strong loyalty to and trust in that which we know is the highest and best within us. Ridicule and the sense that we are not appreciated enough are often the hardest challenges to that loyalty. However, it is not a blind or stupid loyalty that is called for, but rather one which has humbly sought the will of the Father in a particular situation and remains open to an intelligent loving response to our brothers.

Even if you are physically attacked, know that your true identity is not your body, your true reality cannot be physically attacked because you are God’s creation. Your reality exists within the mind of pure Love. Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the Peace of God.

If you are ridiculed, respond with loving forgiveness.

If you are treated unfairly, respond with loving forgiveness.

If you feel you are alone and abandoned, remember that God is always within you and you exist within him. “In him we live and move and have our being.” You cannot be abandoned.

So, the beatitudes rephrased are:

  • Happy are the open-minded, the teachable and truth seeking.
  • Happy are they who want to seek God’s will and do the right thing.
  • Happy are they who cultivate a trust in God.
  • Happy are they who are naturally trustful of others, for they shall acquire spiritual insight.
  • Happy are the sympathetic, for they shall attain genuine and lasting joy.
  • Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
  • Happy are they who are loyal to truth, beauty, and goodness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Let us resolve to practice these attitudes and prepare our minds by prayer so that in each situational challenge of our lives, we will remember who we are—beloved children of God, who is Love. And then we can truly respond to each experience as a child of the Father, doing honor to our Creator through our everyday living.

Our Father asks us to go about “doing good.” As the little expressions of his love flow through us to others, we increase our awareness of the love that exists within us. Unlike physical things, the intangibles of love, understanding, kindness, courage, loyalty, and trust, only increase if they are given away. To know you have love, give it away.

“… by the lives you live… men will know you have been with me and have learned of the realities of the kingdom.” [Paper 140:1.7, page 1569.4]

With the challenges that the 21st century brings, these guidelines for living are here for us to remember while we go about our daily lives.

As we teach love, so shall we learn that we are God’s children created in the image of his love. By our daily efforts to align our minds with the spirit of God that dwells within us, we show our loyalty to that which is highest and best within us.