28 March 2011

THOUGHT - Blessing or curse?

With all that's been happening in Libya recently (and in the wider Middle East and North Africa) I was deeply impressed while reading Matthew 5 this morning.

Have you ever wondered what happens if you reverse Yahshua's statements about blessing?


Church of the Beatitudes in GalileeHe had headed up the mountain because the crowd was pressing in. Yahshua always had compassion on the crowds, he saw them as lost sheep in need of a shepherd.

But he also clearly saw that it was essential to spend time teaching his closest followers. That is what he did on this particular day, leaving the crowd in order to teach the disciples (verse 1).

And what teaching it was!

Backwards beatitudes? - On this occasion he tells them what will bring blessing; it's the simple, basic, kind and loving things that are blessed. It was true then and it's still true today - a fundamental fact about the nature of the kingdom of heaven.

Looking at the opposites of these statements is instructive because it's a list of what will not, and cannot, be blessed. Here's the list...

  • The super spiritual
  • The ones who think everything's fine (so do not mourn)
  • The arrogant
  • Those who have no appetite for righteousness
  • The merciless
  • The impure in heart
  • The peace destroyers
  • Those who are not righteous enough to attract persecution
And there is no blessing in being praised, championed, and having good things said about us if Yahshua is not in us!

Salt and light - We are salt and light, in other words we need to have flavour and not be hidden away. Yahshua is clear that he is not here to abolish the Law or the Prophets, (the Old Testament). These writings speak of him over and over again and he is here to be and do and say what they have set out in words. The law cannot be set aside, it must instead be fulfilled (fully filled, fully met). This is what he came to do.

The demands of love go further than the demands of the Law. In other words anger is embryonic murder and reconciliation is more important than an offering. We have a choice, settle our accounts with Yahweh now (the Son has made that possible) or wait until we are thrown into a place from which there is no escape! Looking at a woman lustfully is embryonic adultery, we must get rid of everything that causes sin. Divorce is wrong unless the circumstances are extreme, swearing an oath comes from the evil one.

We are not to struggle with evil people, we are to love even our enemies and pray for them.

Love in action - The last verse sums it all up, we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Is that a tall order or what? We are called to lives of love for Father and for those around us. It seems to me that the worst figures in history did few of the things that lead to blessing and all the things that do not. Yet still we must love our enemies.

Pray for the people suffering in Libya at the hands of Mr Gaddafi, but also pray for Muammar Gaddafi himself. Even now it's not too late for him to turn away from the things that do not bring a blessing. While there is still time, pray that he will even seize a chance to meet and honour Isa (Jesus). It may be an opportunity that is finally slipping away.

(See also: Being radical)

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