Blessed are those who are persecuted. Huh? Persecuted for what? And why? Why is it a blessing to be persecuted? And what is the blessing that’s received? If you don’t know what this is about, it probably sounds like someone’s really into being dumped on. But then, if you’re a regular here, you know what this is about. It’s the conclusion to our series on the Beatitudes.
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
We move on to the second of the seven letters in Revelation. This time the letter to the persecuted church in Smyrna. Jesus has good things to say about the church in Smyrna. It’s a bit harder to determine whether there’s any bad news in here – at least the kind of bad news that the church in Ephesus received. There were certainly warnings. But whether things would actually turn out “badly” was dependent on how well the people in that church listened to and carried out what Jesus said.
Is the work really done?
When we sing this song, do we just hear “The work is done” – and then assume the work of Christianity is done? It’s an important question. I recently published something about the Great Commission, in which Jesus gives His followers our orders on how to go forward in life.
The response I got from one person was “The work is done, man”. I was shocked. But then this morning I heard the song with those words – The work is done. Is that where the person who wrote the reply got his thinking? Honestly, I don’t know. But do we take the time and put in the effort to find out what the author of the song meant?
Do Christians want power? What kind of question is that? Look around. Of course Christians want power. Check out the Republican Party. Witness the strange almost worship-like adoration of Donald Trump by so many Evangelical Christians. They want power. So why does Scot McKnight say Christians don’t want power? And why is he right? How, in the face of all we see, can McKnight possibly be correct when he says Christians don’t want power?
Actually, both statements are correct – Christians do want power. But also don’t want power. It’s not really a question of whether or not Christians want power. It’s a question of what do we mean by power.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst … Sounds like someone who wants to dig into the brunch picture below. Until we add just two more words. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. That really changed, didn’t it? But still, it could mean “righteous” food, right? As in really good stuff. Or for you Guy Fieri fans – food that’s “the bomb”.
Sorry – it’s none of those things. After all, it’s really supposed to be:
Mt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
But even now, do we really understand what this means? It could be a whole lot more than you think. Maybe even more than you’re ready to hear?
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Yeah. That sounds about right. The meek. The weak people. The ones who never stand up for themselves. They just take whatever comes their way. Truth is, they’re probably the only kind of people who would even accept this old broken down world as part of their inheritance. Everyone else is smart enough to turn it down. Of course, there’s always the question of whether we’ll just literally blow the whole thing up in one huge nuclear war. Then the only inheritance is going to be a whole lot of cosmic dust. For the meek. Yeah – that sounds right. Blessed are the meek – Not!
Except that it really doesn’t sound right. On the off chance you don’t recognize the opening line, here it is again, with some “context” provided by text formatting.
Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
So it’s from Jesus. The creator of this whole universe we live in. Including this old broken down world. And the creator of me and you. Given that, something’s got to be wrong with that whole first paragraph. The thing is though, I dare say, the majority of the world believes the first paragraph is true. Unfortunately, if we’re honest, a look at the world around us shows that a number of people calling themselves Christians hold that same view. Clearly, the truth of this simple beatitude is lost on much of the world.
Blessed are the meek – it must be true. Somehow.
Becoming a Christian is easy. You know – say the sinner’s prayer and voila, you’re a Christian. Or so we’re often told. But, saying “I’m a Christian”, or being told, “You’re a Christian” – does that really make someone a “real” Christian? No, it doesn’t. Being a real Christian isn’t that easy. It takes a lot more than just some words. Many who start off on the path to becoming believers end up leaving that path. At one point, Jesus even asked His closest followers, You do not want to leave too, do you?