You are blessed
November 10, 2017 at 6:00 AM
God's love needed everywhere
There are many ways our position on a partnership ministry team has transformed my discipleship. It has had a profound impact on the way I read the Gospels. Jesus paid special attention to people on the margins, with no power.
November 1 was All Saints Day, which is always celebrated in the Lutheran churches I have served. We read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 together. I noticed that the people Jesus was talking about were all devoid of something.
While we might think of blessing as having something special, Jesus pointed out that not having the usual blessings can actually enable people to receive deeper, more lasting spiritual riches.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Is it to lack confidence, or to be discouraged? Are they actually poor, lacking material goods? Either way, these blessed ones don’t have what they need to thrive. They know what it is to ask for help, and to turn around and help others in the same way. They understand why the kingdom of heaven — God’s ideal — is about everyone having enough.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Those who mourn feel empty, deserted, adrift, having lost someone they love. They are able to receive comfort because their sadness is real. They can walk alongside others who are mourning, sharing the burden together, and thus embody the beloved community of faith.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
Blessed are those who lack arrogance. Because they are humble, they are able to embrace God’s values. They are not busy putting themselves ahead of everyone else.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
They hunger for God’s ways, letting go of their own self-righteousness, their own ideas of what God wants. Living in God’s reign means freedom to love and grow and bless the world. When you get a taste of it, you are hungry for more. When you live into the life God created you for, you will be filled with joy and peace.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
The merciful let go of resentment and revenge. They refuse to hold a grudge. They understand that we are all broken, all in need of forgiveness. Their hands are empty, open to love and not clenched to fight back. Because they offer mercy so freely, they are apt to receive it in return.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
These pure-hearted folks do not cultivate sinful habits like cheating or lying. Their hearts are not filled with hatred. They are not preoccupied with covering their tracks or being suspicious. Instead, when they look around, they can see God shining through nature and people and experiences.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
They lack cynicism, because they live in hope. Peacemakers choose to trust that the goodness of God has been wired into every person. They look exactly as they were meant to look, like children of the God who loves all people.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
These do not let fear run their lives. They know that there are those who may be able to harm their bodies, but their souls are safe in the love and promise of God. The friends I have made in Mali inspire me with this kind of courage that is rooted in God’s faithfulness.
As Jesus uttered the Beatitudes, he was looking into the faces of common people who struggled for survival, for dignity, for joy in the midst of their suffering. They worked hard with their hands. They were meek, poor in spirit, mourning. They longed for peace, for God’s righteousness to prevail over their oppressors.
What Jesus was doing was honoring people who never got to be honored otherwise.
You are God’s beloved, Jesus told them. God sees you, and blesses you. You are the most able to glimpse and grasp the kingdom of God even if you wish for a better life. You are God’s people right now, while you struggle. While you think you lack so much, your lack leaves you open to God’s grace.
Every believer has as much of God as they will ever have, right now. Every single one is blessed to be a child of God, beloved every moment.
Blessed are you, Luke Society directors, colleagues, PMTs, patients, staff, and supporters!