Micah 6:1-8; I Corinthians 1: 18-31; Matthew 5:1-12
Pearl: The kingdom among us can and should be experienced by all.
Function: To champion the goodness of the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven Among Us and how it is truly good news for everyone, including the average, weak, powerless, indeed all of the “hopeless blessables” (D. Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 122).
Just how good is the gospel? How vast and powerful is the gospel of Jesus Christ?
- Christians often underestimate the impact of the Kingdom of Heaven Among Us. Consider the times when you think that someone is beyond hope. Consider all of the people who have no hope. The kingdom of heaven among us is precisely for them! But for the hopeless to know it and experience it you have to take it to them.
his “sermon on the mount” Jesus opened with the news that the kingdom is for everyone
including all of the people on the margins—for the average—for the common
- What he said was shocking. He basically said that the blessed were not just those who sat in high places in their religious world and among all of their privilege but that God’s blessings were for everyone, and he meant “everyone.”
- People commonly think of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12 as being the way people need to be in order to possess the kingdom of God. I read of someone who felt that a relationship with God was not for him because he was just not the kind of person who was meek, or mournful, or poor. He thought that he was therefore excluded from God’s company because the church often sanctifies these characteristics as marking those who would be first in the kingdom.
- Is it correct to interpret that the truly blessed are the meek, the poor, the mournful, the persecuted, and the insulted? Jesus was not advocating that these are virtues or personal characteristics that you should strive for. Not at all! We are indebted to Dallas Willard for this clarification of what the Beatitudes are all about. Jesus was speaking to his disciples about the fact that the blessings of God were for the wide swath of people who made up a typical crowd in his days which included people under all kinds of stresses and conditions. His point was to say: “The Kingdom of Heaven Among Us is for every one of you!”
- Jesus shared God’s good news that the kingdom of heaven among us is not just for the religious elite. It is for all, including all of the “hopeless blessables” (Willard).
Jesus didn’t agree that the blessed were those with the most “glittering images” of his day—the wealthy, the best educated, the most popular, the most “spiritual.” His point was to say that the kingdom of heaven was for even the “least and the lost.” This has a lot to do with why the Pharisees and Scribes didn’t like him much at all. They were the “glittering ones.”
“Religious people” since before Jesus’ time have made a habit of narrowly defining the “blessed.”
- Prior to Jesus, through the prophets, God sought to correct this so Micah said the Lord doesn’t want sacrifices and whole burnt offerings. What the Lord wanted of his people was for them “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8).
- “Doing justice” means “working for the establishment of equity for all, especially the powerless” (Limburg, Interpretation, p. 192).
Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven among us is for all people without distinction. Not that the wealthy, the educated, the well-off are excluded but wonderfully, the kingdom is for all, with no distinctions.
Jesus’ message of the kingdom of heaven among us being for anyone and everyone, the well-off and the way-off, was true, new, and beautiful music!
Jesus unleashed the blessings of God and slung them all over the place! He was the dispenser of the “amazing grace” of God. Not only did he dispense it in his life and ministry but ultimately by giving his life as a sacrifice to continue slinging the blessings of God upon all. There is hope for everyone. There is grace for everyone. The kingdom of heaven among us is for everyone!
think about the blessings in two ways:
- First, as I already said, the blessings are for everyone. This is important to understand and to accept. It should burst wide open your understanding of who are the blessed. God’s blessings are for everyone. Everyone is a “blessable” including the “hopeless blessables.”
second thing I want to say about this truth is that so many do not feel that
they are blessed. In fact, they are not. So many are suffering and dealing with
such difficult circumstances that to say that they are blessed is to not see
them in their real-life circumstances.
- So, it is up to you and to me to bless them! That is right. The church has the mission to bless the “hopeless blessables.”
- You cannot just say it and I cannot just preach it. We have to go to them and sit with them and live with them in their hopelessness so that they can indeed understand and know and begin to experience that the kingdom of heaven is for them as well.
- Intrude in people’s lives so that you can bless
them. I read a wonderful piece the other day from a retired Presbyterian
minister who experienced a stroke one day. He wrote about how many people sent
cards and made phone calls and reached out to him. He said it was so wonderful
to receive that kind of care.
- But he said that many would say or write something at the beginning, “I don’t want to intrude but….” He commended “intruding” in the lives of those who you know are suffering in some way. This is how God’s kingdom among us can be experienced by them.
- Scatter and unleash the blessings of God
to others. You can do it in small ways like greeting the people you see daily
and smiling at them at the same time. And you should scatter these basic level
I exhort you to go to the deeper levels to bless. Take time to intrude on
people’s lives by going to the ones who are suffering, who are aching, who are
angry, and who are offensive. Go to these ones with “blessed intent.”
Share your presence with them; share your love with them.
- Someone recently commented on how to bless homeless people. She listed the best things to give them.
- But she also said that one of the biggest blessings to share with them is to talk to them and to allow them to share their stories. Usually we work hard to not even see them let alone talk and listen to them.
- Seeing them and talking to them is how they can experience the kingdom of heaven.
- But I exhort you to go to the deeper levels to bless. Take time to intrude on people’s lives by going to the ones who are suffering, who are aching, who are angry, and who are offensive. Go to these ones with “blessed intent.” Share your presence with them; share your love with them.
Unleash the blessings of the kingdom of God among us. That is what the kingdom is designed for. This is the purpose of it. This is what Jesus taught the disciples that day on the mountain of their retreat.
Finally, listen as I read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s wonderful update of the Beatitudes for today.
Blessed are the agnostics.
Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction.
Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears could fill an ocean. Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted anymore.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”
Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those who no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers.
Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted.
Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented.
Blessed are the teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek.
You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are the wrongly accused, the ones who never catch a break, the ones for whom life is hard, for Jesus chose to surround himself with people like them.
Blessed are those without documentation. Blessed are the ones without lobbyists.
Blessed are foster kids and special-ed kids and every other kid who just wants to feel safe and loved.
Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions for the sake of people.
Blessed are the burned-out social workers and the overworked teachers and the pro bono case takers.
Blessed are the kindhearted football players and the fundraising trophy wives.
Blessed are the kids who step between the bullies and the weak. Blessed are they who hear that they are forgiven.
Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven me when I didn’t deserve it.
Blessed are the merciful, for they totally get it.
For all of these to know the blessings of God it is up to you to unleash these blessings, to sling them around, you followers of the one who was THE blessing of God: Jesus Christ!