Real Blessing

The BeatitudesHave you ever had one of those moments when you thought, “wow I’m blessed”?  All the time people on facebook are saying that they are blessed.  I think it has sort of become a Christian word that non-Christians understand, so therefore Christians use in liberally.  We know what blessed is when it happens to us.  Who wouldn’t want to be blessed?

When Jesus spoke he spoke to people who thought they knew what a blessed life looked like.  The only trouble was that, well, everything that they thought was wrong! So he had to set them straight.  This is what he said:

Blessed are 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 will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We call this passage the beatitudes.  When I first read it as a teenager I assumed that it meant that these are attitudes we are meant to be like.  Whilst that is kind of right the word itself means “blessings”.  The word has nothing to do with attitude. This passage is all about the blessing of God.

Jesus had to say to his hearers that the blessing of God looks nothing like what they thought it did.  If Jesus was walking around Christians today I think it would be much the same.

When you see someone poor do you think – wow, that person looks so blessed?  No, neither do I.  But Jesus sees it differently.  When you see someone grieving do you think that they are obviously walking in the blessing of God?  We actually think the opposite – we see someone who hasn’t grieved for a long time as the blessed person because all their loved ones are healthy.  Not according to Jesus.  When you read about Christians in China being persecuted and imprisoned do you reflect on how blessed we are to be able to worship freely in this country?  According to Jesus it’s actually the persecuted Christians who are blessed.

But why?  Why are all these people blessed?  They don’t look very blessed to me.  The answer is in verse 12 – because great is your reward in heaven.

Jesus is thinking eternally.  He is saying that blessing goes to the person who accumulates the most heavenly rewards.  Almost all of the “for they will…” promises are rewards that you don’t get in this life.  In Monty Pythons comedy The Life of Brian a person listening to Jesus deliver verse 5 – blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth – says, “Oh well it’s nice that they get something because they have a horrible time of it down here don’t they?”  The writers were trying to be funny but they have actually ended up making the very point that Jesus is trying to!  The writers probably assumed that Jesus is saying that being meek is virtuous and “virtue is its own reward”.  Jesus is saying nothing like that at all.  He is saying that the rewards of the next life are what we should be pursuing, and the more difficulty that you have to push through here the greater your reward is there.

Heaven is not the same for everyone.  It is great for everyone, but the rewards that each Christian get differ.  The greatest rewards go to those who are blessed.  Jesus is not saying that grief, meekness and persecution are fun and we should enjoy them. They are not “good for the soul” or some such nonsense.  He is saying that God sees them and God rewards them in the next life.

That’s real blessing.

3 Comments to “Real Blessing”

  1. That’s a different take on this, but since it pushes me to have another way to focus on Christ and make God the centre it blesses me. God always takes the “big view”. However, the peace that passes understanding is a taste of heaven here, and it holds me together when life is in pieces. Peace is a piece of heaven here!

  2. Hi John and Catherine, thankyou for your blogs. I have just got my wife Pat a Laptop who won,t use mine. We
    have just established her first email address. Please put her on your email address list. Love Peter

    • Done. She should get an email from Side by Side blog now and she will need to press confirm in that email. xoxo

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