I have started a study by Sandra Glahn called Mocha on the Mount. It is, probably obviously, about the sermon on the mount. I've been stuck on the concept of "blessing." I was really moved by the author's revelation that blessings are not what we typically think; money, health, anything else that we desire. Blessing "depends on being rightly related to God despite external circumstances."
When am I blessed?
When I am poor in spirit, when I mourn (over my sinful state), when I am meek (humble, gentle and lowly), when I am hungry and thirsty for righteousness, when I am merciful, when I am pure in heart, when I can be a peacemaker, and when I am persecuted for my righteousness.
Nowhere does Jesus say I am blessed when I have more money than I thought so I can buy a new couch, or when my day of fishing is good when I have a pantry full of food, or any other moment when I've received more than I deserve and choose to keep it for myself.
True, these things can possibly bring me blessing, but only if it brings me closer to my Savior.
In church yesterday, we had a visitor who spoke about the truly impoverished in Kenya. He spoke about how his ministry brought Jesus to children along with soccer and clean drinking water. He spoke about how these are the people about whom Jesus referred to when he last told his disciples to "GO!" These are the nations that need to hear about Jesus and these are the nations that are persecuted for righteousness.
Am I blessed? I don't really know. In my comfy American terms, yes. In my uncomfortable, low, persecuted terms, no. I have to be honest and agree in part with Ken Gire in The Reflective Life, as quoted in the study:
"But honestly I want to be like the Christ who turned water into wine, not the Christ who thirsted on a cross. I want to be the clothed Christ, not the one whose garment was stripped and gambled away. I want to be the Christ who fed the five thousand, not the one who hungered for forty days in the wilderness.... This is the dark side of Christianity, the side we don't see when we sign up. That if we want to be like Christ, we have to embrace both sides of His life. What else could it mean when the Bible talks about 'the fellowship of His suffering'? How could we enter that fellowship apart from suffering? How could we truly know the Man of Sorrows acquainted with grief if we had not ourselves known grief and sorrow?"
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Matthew 5:10