The Second Idea: You Call That a Blessing?
The Sermon on the Mount, an introduction to life as a disciple, connects our life as Christ-followers to the reign and rule of God, that is, His kingdom. Beatitudes two through seven promise futureKingdom blessing. Today I’ll focus on the first and eighth Beatitudes which are unique in that they promise present tense blessings: “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Commentators tell us that the Kingdom of God is both now and not yet. When we sign up as Christ’s followers, we enter the Kingdom reign of God at that time and we are promised that we willincreasingly experience His Kingdom rule and blessing.
In the first and eighth Beatitudes, Jesus assures us that two key indicators characterize those experiencing the Kingdom:
- Poverty of spirit: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 NIV).
- Persecution because of righteousness: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10 NIV).
Crazy isn’t it!? These two telling marks of a disciple and citizenship in the kingdom, are not quite a picture of the “American dream”—somehow they involve poverty of spirit and persecution.
Would others say your spirit is characterized by humility and contriteness? Do you have a firm grip on your own poverty apart from the grace of God?
Jesus and the apostle Paul were opposed and persecuted by both the religious and by others in authority. Our daily news brings evidence of desperate situations where believers around the world face intense opposition. For us in America, persecution could look like people putting us down, leaving us out, or legislating away our freedoms.
What do you think?
- How might the righteousness of God draw persecution from others?
- Do your lifestyle and your actions (motivated by a desire for righteousness) in the world bring out opposition from others?