Updated: Jan 4, 2019
Is anyone feeling blessed this morning? Now before you answer, I want you to really think about it. Are you feeling blessed.... We use that word like it's the go to response in church. How are you doing? Oh, you know I'm good, God's been blessing me! Or the Facebook status "Feeling blessed!" It has lost something in its essence. Anyone know what the definition of blessed is?
-made holy; consecrated
I ask you again are any of you guys feeling "made holy, or consecrated?" There seems to be this paradigm shift with the statement. How are you doing? Oh, you know I'm good, God's been making me holy! Feeling consecrated!
I would like to take it a step further by defining a key term. The church has these fancy words and preachers like to throw them out and act like they are known by everyone but the reality is people don't use them, ever, and the loose ideas they have of the words are largely misunderstood. Words like sanctification, consecration, eschatology, millennialism, etc. It's like the King James Version of church talk, no one knows what you're trying to say. It's almost like we need to NIV our church terms. Define these concepts that are so fundamental to our faith in a way so that people can understand them and apply them. So, in searching for truth I will define consecration as it pertains to the topic of being blessed.
-to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity
Are you feeling blessed yet? Have you set yourself apart from the world so that God can make you holy?
It isn't my aim to cast a dark shadow over phrases that people use for good things but i sometimes think that we abandon context for good. We take things and justify them by their goodness without a full understanding of the core, the reason for them. I say all that to say this: there is a very well known chunk of scripture that is primarily about being blessed and I want us to understand the intent, the context, fully so that we may apply the truths within them to our lives. If you haven't already figured it out we are going to be looking at the Beatitudes.
Before we dig in I want to spend a few seconds understanding what beatitude means. And I think the early church theologian St. Gregory of Nyssa says it best:
"Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good, from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want. Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us if it is compared with its opposite." Now the opposite of beatitude is misery. Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings."
So beatitude means not being unwillingly afflicted with pain and suffering. Or as Miriam Webster states: a state of utmost bliss.
So with all things defined I think we are ready to dig in.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Made holy are the humble. Humility comes when we realize that all we have, our life, our skills, our talents, our families, everything, comes from the grace of God. Using the opposite to define again, the opposite of humility is pride.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Made holy are those who hurt over the poverty of human nature. Mourning over our fallen nature causes us to desire to be better, to improve, to do what is right in the eyes of God. This is where comfort lies. That good feeling you get while doing good things.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Made holy are those with self control. The best definition of meek is having the ability and justification to overpower someone but choosing not to. Meekness is often mistaken for weakness but meekness is a trait that shows real strength.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Made holy are those who have a passion for a righteous life. The strong desire to be pleasing to God, to do what God wants, to live up to the will of God.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Made holy are those who show forgiveness to sinners and compassion to the suffering and needy. Showing mercy becomes more important than your own rights. Not that we are merciful by nature, because we are not, but because mercy has been given to us.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Made holy are those whose will and choices are pure. The “heart” is used in the Bible for the will, the choices. And so to be pure in heart means that the decisions one makes, the desires one has, the thoughts and intentions of the will, are untarnished by sin, and that the will is determined to be pleasing to God. From the pure of heart come only good things, acts of love and mercy, desires for righteousness and justice, decisions that please God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Made holy are those who carry out the work of God. God is the God of peace; His whole plan of redemption is to provide peace with God for those who were formerly alienated from God, and ultimately bring peace to the whole world. This is the goal of the work of the Messiah.
But in humanity, however, there is strife and conflict with little hope for peace and unity. The peace that God brings is not a cessation of hostilities, tolerance, or the readiness to give way. True peace that the world needs calls for a complete change of nature. And only God can give this kind of peace. It is a peace that the world does not understand. It begins with reconciliation with God and extends to reconciliation with other people.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Made holy are those who are attacked because of righteousness. In this fallen world when people try to promote peace, or champion righteousness, or live a life of gentleness and meekness, they find opposition. You would think that such a life would attract people to the kingdom of God. But the fact that it does not naturally do that tells us clearly that humanity is not only alienated from God, but in rebellion to God. They might want justice, but on their own terms. They prefer power, and privilege, and possessions.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The dynamic is much different than just a drive by reading. There is a deep level of counter thought to the culture that makes us set apart, consecrated, blessed!