Living the Dream
We all have some vision of what a “good life” should look like, don’t we? Is it living by the golden rule, becoming the autonomous self, or having a place by the water to spend your weekends? What scene would you sketch to describe living the dream?
In reality, many of us would be so discouraged if we measured our lives by our own standards of the “ideal life.” But does that standard even mesh with the Bible’s definition? In Matthew 5, Jesus speaks to a captive audience on a hillside and describes a kingdom that looks wildly upside-down. Jesus’ crowd was hungry for answers about the “good life.” I don’t think our modern longings would be too far removed from these first-century seekers at all. Everyone wants a fulfilled life, right? Nobody lives their life saying, “Hey, how can I waste my days away.” Of course not! We all want to flourish. But are we?
The contrast between our understanding and Jesus’ teaching on flourishing is so apparent right at the top of his sermon. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s shocking, but it’s good news. Blessed people are those who are poor in spirit. Flourishing people are those who recognize that their kingdom is not built by stepping up, but by bowing down. Our measure of the “good life” is not seen in our estimation, but in God’s definition.
Psalm 32:1 gives us a glimpse into how Jesus sees those who are his people when it says, “blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”.
Here’s where the good news comes into play. Those who truly recognize the power of the gospel are those who experience a kingdom that is filled with the riches of God’s grace. Your searching and striving are over. You no longer have to grow weary building a kingdom by the sweat of your brow. You don’t have to seek happiness in social status, entertainment, sex, pornography, or money. When you see your emptiness, you’re ready for grace. When you’re poor, you’re ready to enjoy the pleasures of the kingdom of God.
God’s vision for flourishing in his kingdom is radically different from ours, but it is so much better.