Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
We don't hear the word blessed much in these days although it is probably not in danger of dropping out of the English language. We need a word for what God alone can do in our lives. There is a sense in which every person and every creature on earth is blessed by God. He gives us food and drink and every breath of air we breathe. But we find the fullest expression of blessing laid out by Jesus in His declaration of blessedness in Luke 6 and Matthew 5. In Luke the blessings are set against woes.
These blessed statements clearly represent the values given by Jesus to be sought by His followers. They, however, are counterintuitive. They go against our innate tendencies and the world's definition value and success. Jesus begins in Luke 6:18 with "Blessed are the poor." Who thinks poverty is good? He concludes the Matthew 5 passage by saying, "You are blessed when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you on account of me."
There are at least three crucial perspectives of these beatitudes given us by Jesus. First, we are blessed in spite of these things. You may be poor in the world's goods, but you have become a child of the King! James 2:5 says God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom promised to those who love God.
But we are also blessed by these difficult things. God uses difficult and painful things to develop the character of His children. So James chapter 1 tells us to count it all Joy when we fall into all kinds of trials. These blessings are not merely external like the things the world values. There is a couplet in my book of poems from The Gospel of John that reads.
"Then you will come to know and understand
All that you longed for, but you couldn’t be."
God uses difficulties not simply to give us things, but to make us into joyful people. He makes us meek rather than people who manipulate to get what we want. We become merciful rather than pointing out how life is not fair to us. And all the worldly desires are removed so by our pure hearts we come to see the face of God.
Finally, we are blessed eternally by these values. The beatitudes must be seen in God's perspective of time. All the good things of this world will end in loss and sorrow and grief. But the good brought about in our lives by the Spirit of God is eternal.