When the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, Christians were distracted by the growing threat of Roman persecution. In it he faithfully recorded “all that he saw” from the great visions communicated to him by Jesus (1:2). These changed him, and he wanted his letter to comfort and change the brotherhood. So in his opening words he gave them a simple plan: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (v3) Continue reading
Jesus warned us that we would sometimes be hated. “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the son of Man.” (Lk.6:22) Hatred isn’t always violent; it can manifest itself by insults and giving people the cold shoulder. Nobody likes to be hated; we all want people to like us. But we can’t control what other people do. Sometimes hatred happens because people lump us together in their minds with abusive religions that have hurt them, or maybe people are simply afraid of what they don’t understand. Whatever the reasons, we need to expect that people will occasionally hate us. Continue reading
When Jesus first made this statement, the poor must have laughed. What blessing could possible come from poverty? In first century Judea, poverty was common. Jesus also mentioned hungry people, and those who mourn. Loss of life easily happened from manual labour accidents, disease and war. Families were left to face extreme hardships.
Poverty is still with us, even here in Canada. Stats Canada says there are about 3.2 million people living with low incomes, including 634,000 children. That’s roughly 10% of all Canadians. I’m sure poverty was much higher in Jesus’ day.
The Lord didn’t say the answer to poverty was simply to feed people, although He did do plenty of that. In Luke 6:20-21, He said the poor would be blessed because they could have the kingdom of heaven. Likewise the hungry would be satisfied, but not just with food. Sometimes people with great possessions can feel poor in spirit, hungry for deeper things to make life worthwhile, and certainly nobody is exempt from “weeping” over inevitable losses. There is more than one way to be poor.
The poor are blessed when they turn to Jesus and find forgiveness, acceptance, love, depth of spirit, and new lives to live. They gain the ability to laugh again in a hard world; to be satisfied deep inside instead of trying to buy it with money; and feel the solid ground on which to build a better life.
The poor and hungry need our help. But they need the real blessings that can only come from facing poverty of the soul. This is our work as His people.
– Tim Johnson