Blessed

1-20-13, City on a Hill 1, Blessed

Matthew 5:1-12

Blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

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

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

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

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

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Blessed – ultimate well-being and distinctive spiritual joy.

Notice the word ‘happy’ does not appear anywhere in the definition of ‘blessed’ above. Derived from the word ‘happenstance’, happiness is contingent upon extrinsic variables. Our circumstance determines our level of happiness, so if our circumstances are dire, then we cannot be happy (or so we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe). Blessedness is intrinsically motivated. Our level of blessedness is reflected in our gratitude for life (ultimate well-being) and the ability to be joyful in any circumstance. Followers of Jesus learn the secret to joy is not to hoard it, but to give it. Leading another soul to experience joy is an inescapably joyful experience for the one leading! The joy you experience is a direct measure of the joy you bring into the lives of others. Let’s break down these declarations of blessedness from Jesus’s most famous oration into real-world situations:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Pride is a characteristic unbecoming to all who wear it. Pride is often the attitude the bible references when you read of someone being ‘rich’. To enter heaven, one must replace pride with humility.

Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.

Human nature defaults to sympathy in the presence of sadness. Those who are sad are blessed through empathy from others.

Blessed are those who are meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Meekness is strength under control, another reference to humility. When the prideful have fallen from their pedestals, the strong who controlled themselves are who the people look to for leadership.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

God will not withhold righteousness from anyone who desires to embrace it.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Pit this statement against the ‘judge not lest you be judged’ verse we’d much prefer to regurgitate. People will be as merciful to you as you are to them.

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

No one is entirely pure in their heart. Everyone carries with them a sinful nature that is manifested through selfish motivation. Through humility, we can begin to purify our hearts. This principle echos the first, reminding us of the importance of humility and self-control.

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

This line if often reduced to a political statement. Political activism is not a form of peacemaking. Can activism inspire peace in tense political situations, sure. The peacemaker Jesus is referring to is one who creates peace at a more personal level, leading other souls to peace with themselves and peace with God. The only way to lead someone to peace with God is through proclaiming the gospel. Peacemakers of this caliber are sons of God because they literally reflect the very mind of God; peace.

As followers of Jesus, Christians are literal agents of reconciliation within their communities. Wielding mercy and the gospel as our weapons of choice, we fight for peace in our circle of influence by taking advantage of opportunities to show others mercy and taking time to personally share the gospel. Mercy and the gospel must be used in conjunction with each other. Sharing the gospel without showing mercy leads to bigotry, counter-productive to inspiring peace and the antithesis to the gospel of Jesus. Mercy without the gospel is the root of  modern-day social justice. What’s wrong with social justice you may ask? In theory, social justice is at the root of Jesus’s ministry; peace and equality among his people. In action (at least in modern terms) social justice is a band-aid that enables irresponsibility and conditions people to dependency.  One cannot follow the gospel of Christ without also taking full responsibility for every decision. Social justice paired with the gospel requires those being justified (and those doing the justifying) to accept responsibility to sustain their justified state.

Now for the last two, I’ll clump them together.

Blessed are those (you) who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for their’s (your’s) is the kingdom of heaven.

Back the truck up here. I’m bless for being slandered (insignificant in comparison to other forms of persecution) and should accept it with joy?! Pride. Once again, pride is juxtaposed with humility. If you truly are humble, it won’t matter what people say about you because you understand your spiritually broken state. On some level, even outright lies could be conceivably accurate. Pride responds to persecution with defense, humility finds joy in celebrating God’s love for us despite our nature.

Proclaiming the gospel opens the door for persecution, but a blessed heart cannot contain the mercy it’s been given.

May you be blessed.

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3 thoughts on “Blessed

  1. I read a pastor’s post on what America is calling persecution and you put it so well that “Pride responds to persecution with defense.” It’s not about others, its about Him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts through writing and art. Bless you

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    • I was drawing for a service at fairly conservative church once where the message focused on persecution and facing trials. The main point the pastor was trying to get across was that God is with you in your darkest times to lead you through. The drawing that message produced was very simplistic and convicting, but deviated from the sermon by focusing on what we, in America, call a “dark time” compared to the rest of the world. I left the page completely white save one word in the very center written using a hard lead, “dark”. In the grand scheme of the world, what we call a dark time are situations others would be grateful to experience in lieu of their reality!

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      • This is so very true. My Haitian friends feel America would be so great…it’s hard to explain to them that their simple life can be so much better than here.

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