I’ve been looking at the Beatitudes recently and was struck by how counter they are to our own American “Declaration of Independence.” As a result, few might want to hear these words: Our inalienable rights endowed to us by our Creator and protected by our government – life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness – do not necessarily coincide with the declaration of dependence on Christ in the beatitudes. I have never heard anyone say that before, but there it is in all its glory.
Declaration of Dependence vs. Independence
This kind of leans back into my entitlement posts, doesn’t it? Many hear the words “pursuit of happiness” as “our right to experience happiness.” Well, this is just a recipe for destruction. God has endowed me with the right of free will, but not the life I demand, the liberty I insist upon, and the happiness I expect. But wait—isn’t that my American RIGHT?! Not so much.
Demanding a right to happiness sets me up for serious hurt and deep disappointment. Though I may pursue it, God doesn’t guarantee happiness. And even if I do achieve the American dream, God doesn’t assure my true satisfaction in it.
Beatitudes: Declaration of Dependence on Christ
Now let’s look at the declaration of Christ.
Blessed are . . .
- …the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:3).
- …those who mourn: for they will be comforted (5:4).
- …the meek: for they will inherit the earth (5:5).
- …those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be satisfied (5:6).
- …the merciful: for they will be shown mercy (5:7).
- …the pure in heart: for they will see God (5:8).
- …the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God (5:9).
- …those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:10).
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You see, we may be driven by happiness but satisfaction is our need. Reward motivates us, and that’s by God’s design. But there’s a catch: the Lord lays out my life and determines my circumstances. Since I am His child, God decides what my life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness looks like. And further, only living in His choices satisfies me!
The Declaration of Dependence is In-Dependence
Imagine if our founding fathers wrote a Declaration of In-Dependence like this:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are the right to poorness of spirit, to being meek, to hungering and thirsting after Righteousness; the right to be merciful, pure-hearted, and to be a peacemaker who is persecuted for Righteousness; you have the right to be insulted, persecuted and falsely accused, and ultimately, you have the right to rejoice to live God’s dream.
God isn’t obligated to uphold my assumed rights to happiness. In fact, His passionate pursuit is for the rights of His SON—for His Life, His Liberty, and His Pursuit of His Bride. My declaration of dependence supports His right to be my Life, to be my Rights and bring in His Kingdom. So it is there I will find true contentment and lasting satisfaction.