“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
I have been praying over the Beatitudes lately. I have found myself lost in this powerful sermon of Jesus as I look inward and outward.
Jesus reminds the crowds and those of us still listening over 2000 years later that blessed are the meek, the mourning, those most hungry and thirsty for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart…woah…half way done and I’m exhausted just thinking about that.
This was so counterintuitive to those who heard this sermon initially.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were saying something different. Blessed are those who look the part, act the part but being pure in heart? That wasn’t part of their message.
They would say blessed are those who follow the ancient decrees and old covenants but Jesus is saying blessed are those who are meek and poor in spirit?
Jesus reminds us that sometimes we can get lost in our righteousness and our own holier than thou attitudes. Jesus says too often we get lost in legalism and culturalism that we forget the core pieces of who God commands us to be.
Jesus ends this one section by saying blessed are all of you who are persecuted, insulted, and falsely accused of being who you aren’t because others want to make you look bad. Jesus actually says rejoice and be glad because your reward is in heaven. Those who are persecuted are in amazing company of many who came before you who were also persecuted.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount inspires me and reminds me that life will be tough. Jesus spells it out that the promise isn’t that you won’t be persecuted but that it won’t be for naught. You might be meek and a peacemaker in a world of war and boisterous but your reward is Godly and not Earthly.
Many of us suffer with addictions, financially from jobs that are uncertain and don’t pay nearly enough, through illness and diseases that seem to have no end in sight-we suffer from spiritual darkness and emotional distress. Some of us struggle with mental illness, and many fight and struggle for ways to make sense of an at times nonsensical world. Jesus reminds us that the promise is never that it will be easy but that we’ll never be asked to face any of it alone. We serve a God who is greater than any opposition-a God greater than any threat-we serve a God greater than any who, what, when, where, or why. We might fell like we sometimes stand alone in our faith but Jesus reminds us that we never stand alone in our faith.
Pray: Gracious and loving god, comfort us and remind us how blessed we are when it feels so difficult to feel it. Move in our hearts a new feeling of blessedness and appreciation for our Lord and Savior who gave it all for me and all of us who choose to believe.
Read: The remainder of Matthew 5
Act: You are blessed to be a blessing. Bless someone with a kind word, a kind action, a kind gesture. Be the good in the world that we so desperately long for-starting today.
Yourself: The weather is changing and getting cooler. Curl up with a good magazine or a good book-I might suggest scripture or a good devotional to hear god speaking to you-but either way-shut the TV off and all the noise. Get lost in your own thoughts and the words of others as they speak to you. Let your imagination carry you away from this world for a little bit.
May it be so-
Rev. Lou Ward
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