I invite you to imagine that you are sitting on a green, grassy hillside covered with bright yellow and lavender flowers. This hillside is on the other side of the world, just west of the ancient town of Capernaum. Below you is the Sea of Galilee, which, from where you’re seated, looks as beautiful bright blue as the sky above. The air is fresh. There’s a slight breeze blowing. The temperature on this late winter day in this part of the world is just slightly cooler than what the temperature is outside right now.
As you look up this hillside, you see Jesus seated on a fairly large rock—a boulder—before you. Jesus begins to speak.
This is the setting for the Sermon on the Mount. Before Jesus tells us what to believe or how to behave, he tells us the right attitude to have. We call them the Beatitudes. And they're mind blowing.
We expect Jesus to talk about being confident or brave or Godly. These are attributes that are praised in today's world. Instead, Jesus turns the world upside down.
He tells his followers to become vulnerable. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," he begins. And he ends with, "Blessed are you who are persecuted."
Tenacity and grit have their place in our lives. But real change, genuine personal transformation, starts with, "I need help," "I hurt," "I own that mistake" or "I’m not willing to define success simply by my title or income any longer."
Vulnerability is basically lowering our defenses and opening ourselves up to uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Sociologist Benee Brown says that to live a fulfilled life we need "the important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few."
She goes on to say, "Learning how to be vulnerable has been a street fight for me, but it’s been worth it."
The Beatitudes are the gateway to a life of joy, including the joy that overcomes the inevitable sorrow. It may be a struggle, but as we'll see, it's worth it.