In the Copper Canyons of hidden, rural Mexico, there is a small tribe called the Tarahumara. According to the few outsiders who have been granted access, members of the Tarahumara:
- Live by simple foods, strange drinks, and hardly work at all.
- Don’t have clean water, doctors or hospitals.
- Don’t even wear shoes.
- Live an ancient and prehistoric way of living.
We might expect them to get sick often, to have feet covered in sores and blisters, to be unathletic, and to have short life spans. However, the Tarahumara are superhumans.
- They hunt and catch deer on foot.
- They outrun jaguars.
- Mountainsides that took professional American climbers ten hours to summit, the Tarahumara have scaled in 90 minutes without equipment.
- Some have run for 500 miles consecutively.
What is the Tarahumara Secret?
They don’t train, hydrate or carb load. When they have a village race, they stay up late, drink heavily, and saunter around to the race. They don’t stretch. Then they run for 24, 48, or even 100 hours without stopping.
Meanwhile, back in America, folks like me run for a mile or two, get shin splints, and sore feet. Marketers know this, so we buy $150 running shoes, see orthopedic doctors, do rehab, and follow training plans—but we keep getting injured and sick.
The Tarahumara know something that we don’t. What if everything you know about running is upside down?
Here’s this tribe—this group of people, this community living a different sort of life, an alternate way, and it’s not them that’s upside down. It’s us. We need to be flipped right side up.
Now consider this: What if everything you know about life and meaning and purpose and religion and community—what if it’s all upside down?
What if there was some new information, even a new community you could discover, that would seem so utterly upside down that it looks too good to be true? Except, in reality, this alternate way is right-side up.
The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached
We in America might expect Jesus to announce the Good Life as one full of comfort, success, or status. We expect him to pronounce “blessings” upon those who can pull it together and get it right. But that’s not anywhere in Jesus’s message.
Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus led his followers up a small mountain in the region of Galilee and sat down. As crowds of interested people gathered in and sat around him, he began to teach.
Revolutionaries often escaped with their followers to the mountains, but this was different. Yes, Jesus was a revolutionary; he was teaching an alternate way of life. But it wasn’t quite what anyone expected.
Jesus’s topic was, simply, “The Good Life.”
We in America might expect Jesus to announce the Good Life as one full of comfort, success, status, healthy well-being, friendly relationships with well-established boundaries. We expect him to pronounce “blessings” upon those who are the most devoted, the well off, the smart, hard-working folks — the ones who can pull it together and get it right.
But that’s not anywhere in Jesus’s message. That’s not the truly Good Life.
What Does it Mean to be Blessed With the Good Life?
Jesus’s most famous teaching is recorded in Matthew 5-7 and it’s called the Sermon on the Mount. In it, Jesus reframes what it means to live a Good Life. He boldly announces blessings, or “beatitudes,” on several groups of people. Here, we have a clear picture of the Good Life, direct from the Savior’s heart.
BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT
It’s interesting, isn’t it? We equate poverty with brokenness. But Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The “blessed” ones, according to Jesus, are the ones that have nothing left to give and nothing to offer. They are characterized by their lack, by their need.
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN
We don’t like to mourn. We want to be happy, smiling, carefree. But that’s not reality. In a broken world, our lives are marked by loss—death, sickness, divorce, lost employment, and broken dreams. We don’t have the patience for those who mourn. But Jesus says: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
BLESSED ARE THE MEEK
The meek? We don’t even use this word anymore. Humble? Soft-hearted? No way! We want power, control, authority. We want to be king of the hill. One commentator translates this phrase “Blessed are the little people.” The down and out, the marginalized, the have-nots. Jesus says, “Blessed are the [little people], for they will inherit the earth.”
Jesus doesn’t stop there. He says:
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (those characterized by what they lack and need).
- Blessed are the merciful (those who hold nothing against one another, but having been shown mercy, are merciful).
- Blessed are the pure in heart (the simple, trusting, forgiving people, the ones who get taken advantage of).
- Blessed are the peacemakers (the ones not looking to pick fights but bring peace to a conflicted world).
- Blessed are those who are persecuted (who, because of their faith and goodness, get left out, looked over, brushed aside, rejected, removed, banished, cut off).
Yes, blessed are all these people. Those who have nothing; nothing to offer, nothing to prove, and nothing to defend. Theirs is the Kingdom. They will see God. They will be satisfied. They will be called children of God.
In the Beatitudes, everything is upside down. But maybe, Jesus is turning our world right-side up. True blessedness isn’t found in looking within ourselves or developing self-esteem. The Good Life isn’t found by focusing on ourselves at all. The (Truly) Good Life is less about finding yourself than it is about finding Christ.
The Beatitudes aren’t an invitation to “remember the poor” or “have pity on the lowly.” It’s an invitation to be the poor; to identify with the lowly.
It’s the upside-down message that’s actually right-side-up: The poor and needy are in the best position to receive and demonstrate the Kingdom of God.
Explore the upside down paths that lead us to Jesus. Through thought-provoking teaching and powerful testimonies, unpack the counter intuitive truths of Jesus in each episode of The End of Me Video Series. The End of Me features pastor and bestselling author, Kyle Idleman (not a fan, gods at war) and is produced by the award-winning team at City on a Hill Studio.
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