ARE YOU CRAZY?
"Then He spoke: 'You're blessed when you've lost it all. God's kingdom is there for the finding.
'You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry. Then you're ready for the Messianic meal.
'You're blessed when the tears flow freely, Joy comes with the morning.
'Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens -- skip like a lamb, if you like -- for even though they don't like it, I do...and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like that.'" Luke 6:20-23 (The Message).
What is He talking about? He almost sounds like some sort of killjoy; only happy when everything goes wrong; glad to be miserable!
This would sound crazy if it came from anyone's lips but Jesus'. What is He getting at? You cannot go very far into the gospels before you realise that Jesus lived in the environment of God's kingdom. Don't get me wrong -- He was a very down-to-earth person, in touch with reality, especially the need of the people around Him, aware of their suffering and full of compassion for them.
But He also knew that there was no permanent solution for them in the present world system. He could heal them now but they would be sick again. He could raise the dead but they were destined to die again. As long as the world system they were in prevailed, there would always be sorrow, sickness and suffering, because it is an imperfect fallen world and will remain that way unless God intervened.
The good news is that the present world system, with all its sin and imperfection, is temporary. He had come from the Father to get rid of the obstacle to restoration and reconciliation, the huge debt of man's sin. God had set the course for restoring everything that was broken, distorted and out of joint and it culminated in Him. What God started in Genesis 1 and 2, He would complete according to Revelation 21 and 22.
Through Jesus, God provided the forgiveness that restored the broken relationship between Him and His estranged sons and daughters, but there was also the matter of choice. Would they want to come back to the Father's house? How did the lost son in the far country come to his senses? He looked at his circumstances, starving and looking after pigs, and realised that he had been much better off at home.
Jesus said that it is very difficult for rich people to enter the kingdom of God. Why? Is it because they have money? No. It's because they use their money to satisfy their own need. Money is a good servant but a bad master. Wealth is good if it is used to serve others but bad if it feeds greed and selfishness.
Therefore, according to Jesus, loss and hunger and persecution are not blessings in themselves but they are if they create an awareness that life is much more than what we eat, what we drink and what we wear. Life is transient, like mist that is here in the morning but gone by midday. It is foolishness to place our faith in and live for what is passing away.
God allows these kinds of circumstances into our lives to draw our attention to a kingdom that is permanent and eternal; a way of life that echoes the eternal character and values of the Father. Greed and selfishness belong to this transient, imperfect world and will eventually go out with the trash. We might be ridiculed and side-lined if we side with Jesus now. His way may seem puny to those who believe in control and force and power, but in the end, He won then and He will win again.
If you open up to Him, He will change your heart and set you on a course of generosity and unselfish service that will bring you joy and the realisation of who you really are, a son or daughter of God, created in His image to be like Him.
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