You know, I think many Western Christians misunderstand blessings. As a matter of fact, I think we come to revere and even worship blessings as a sign of favor from God. Yet this morning, as I read Luke 6, I was cut to the heart: And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)
Consider what Jesus pronounces as being blessed, versus what He calls a curse upon. In our society, and even in the church, it is considered a curse to be poor, hungry, brokenhearted, and outcast. Yet it is these things Jesus called blessed! He may be speaking of a spiritual hunger, versus a physical one, or of both, but, truly, we need to consider our priorities. What I mean is, as soon as Jesus pronounces blessings, He also calls woes (a form of curse) upon those who are satisfied in their riches, those who eat and are satisfied, those who have laughter, and those who are well liked. Jesus isn't saying that physical hunger is virtuous, and full stomachs are evil, he's using hyperbole to show that what we seek in life either gives us ultimate joy, or will bring us ultimate sorrow. If we seek to be satisfied in THIS life, we've received our reward, but if we cannot and will not be satisfied with the physical now, we will be blessed in the time to come.
So this begs the question for the rest of us: are we seeking our satisfaction in the here and now? Are we seeking a full supper table, nice house, steady paycheck, and to be an upstanding and well liked member of the community? This then, shall be our reward, enjoy it while it lasts! But if we seek the eternal, to use what God has blessed us with to bring others to His Son, then we understand the point of it all! Jesus even says (a few chapters later) that if we seek to save our lives, we shall lose them, but whoever loses their life for His sake, then we shall find life! Are we focused on the right things, or the wrong things? If we belong to Christ, than this world isn't our home. We're foreigners and sojourners awaiting the time to go home into eternal joy. Yet if we're seeking satisfaction here and now, we better enjoy it while it lasts, for this is all we shall get. Choose wisely. Luke 9:18-27 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”