Thursday, January 16, 2014

Living Jesus: See the Blessing, Be the Blessing

Here are some continued thoughts and reactions to the Beatitudes, Jesus' blessing-filled opening to the Sermon on the Mount.

In his book, Living Jesus, Randy Harris encourages readers to identify with the "anawim," (the poor in spirit or the pathetic ones) that Jesus blesses first. When we realize that most of us are essentially "losers" we can come to appreciate how great and important Christ's blessing is AND we recognize that His blessing extends to us as well. In other words, we don't have to try to be poor in spirit, most of us already are.

After some inward reflecting on who we really are and what Jesus' blessing means to us, we should stop and look around.

Harris says, "I believe that it's impossible to live out the Sermon on the Mount if we don't first understand that we are loved and blessed by God."

Perhaps we should add to that thought that it is impossible to live out the Sermon on the Mount if we don't first understand that the world around us is also loved and blessed by God.

Brian McLaren puts it well in The Secret Message of Jesus

        "After all when you see your students, constituency, clients, or customers as people who are          loved by God and as your fellow citizens in God's kingdom, it becomes harder to rip them            off or give them second best. And when enough people begin to live with that viewpoint, in          little ways as well as big ones, over long periods of time, things truly change... each of us              not only prays, 'May your kingdom come,' but we become part of the answer to that                        prayer in our sphere of influence."

When we start seeing the blessing in other people and in the world around us, we are energized to be the blessing in their lives. A great Christian truth is that God uses his people as agents to distribute His truth and blessing to the world. He did it with Israel and He does it now through Christ and His following. 
     2 Corinthians 9:8-12
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

***The famous "sermon on the mount" is recorded in Matthew 5-7. Last week we started our study of this sermon with the help of the resource "Living Jesus" by Randy Harris, with Greg Taylor. All of the blog posts that have "Living Jesus" in the title follow the Utica church of Christ's Sunday AM Bible study in the 1st quarter of 2014***

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