Blessed Are Those ...
This week's blog is based on Matthew 5:1-12
"Blessed are those with health insurance, for they deserve medical treatment."
Wait a minute! That's not how it goes, is it?
Isn’t it: "Blessed are those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, for they were not lazy!"? Hmm ... that's not right.
OK, one more try!
"Blessed are those who don’t use food stamps, for they earned what they got!"
Ehh, that still seems off.
That isn't what the Bible says, so why do we humans often act like it is? That's the question we would all like the answer to!
Growing up I would see people in my community, including my own household, working so hard to take care of their families. The people I saw were not lazy. They were not sitting around trying to live off the efforts of others. These were folks who were working countless hours per week, but still their financial ends didn't meet.
These were amazingly intelligent people working miracles to stretch the resources they did have in order to survive.
Maybe some of you all are familiar with trying to make everything stretch to keep things afloat. And you probably know that the world constantly wants to blame poor people for being poor. But, you and I know that it is much deeper and more complex than that.
While the world is trying to build a kingdom of shame, Jesus is bringing a KINdom of God. One of grace, community, and blessed assurance. One that does not focus on just one individual, but rather the needs of everyone.
In the Sermon on the Mount, we hear the words from Jesus
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
More beautiful words have rarely been said. We find these words beautiful because, firstly, they come from Jesus (duh!) but also because we can see ourselves and our experiences in these words. We have felt that struggle in some way and been caught up in circumstances that were out of our control. And so those words speak to our hearts. But we must know that Jesus is speaking to those around us as well.
People who have wronged.
People who are poor.
People who have mourned.
People who have been the victim of situations that were out of their control.
Jesus is very clear that a time is coming when the systems that hurt people will be removed. One that will show the best of humankind. One that will allow humans to see the blessedness in each other.
Maybe it is time we stop blaming people for things that are out of their control and start working toward a community that makes sure everyone has what they need. One where we look out for each other. One where we see ourselves in each other. One where we see the blessedness in each other.
Perhaps theology professor Amy G. Oden said it best:
“Within God’s life (kingdom) “blessedness” does not depend on wealth or health or status. It is not a reward for righteousness or duty. Rather, blessedness is God’s sheer gift. In the realm of God, life is not governed by honor and shame, but by the promise of abundant life. Mourning, poverty of spirit, and meekness reveal this inbreaking of God’s abundant life. When we have “eyes to see” our lives within the kingdom of God, it’s like pushing the reset button.”