Is America blessed? In this post I do not plan on bashing the state of our country and I will clarify by saying that I do not take for granted the unexplainable gift of being born and raised in the country that I was. But when I look beyond the surface of materialism, I am anxious not only for the status of our country, but for the status of the church within our country.
I see comfortable Christians with high gates up around their hearts and around their homes. Is our community filled with more products than people? Are our routines built more around making money and staying busy rather than investing in relationships? Are we building our whole lives out of clumsy and temporary things? Or are the temporary places showing people our eternal hope?
Look at who Jesus says is blessed in the kingdom of God from “the Sermon on the Plain”: the poor, the hated, the sad, and the hungry. I am asking God to strip away my preconceived cultural context as I read this Scripture. Most things in the kingdom of God are upside down from our perspective. So in this moment I am asking God to allow us to see His upside down way as supreme and holy, as worth following.
“And he lifted his eyes on his disciples, and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.’”
— Luke 6:20-26
This time in our world calls for people who are living hungry for righteousness, those who weep with those around the world who are weeping, for those who stand up and out for the sake of the gospel. I see people who are satisfied and comfortable and superficially rich. Until we begin being blessed – embracing our DNA given by the Holy Spirit – and until we remember that this earth is temporal, our world will not be the changed for the better. It’s a paradox of kinds: the more we focus on the kingdom of God regardless of our cultural circumstances, the more our worlds improve as a fringe benefit of knowing Christ. Unless we become hungry, we won’t be filled. Unless we weep, we won’t experience laughter. Unless we make ourselves poor to the world and rich to Christ, we will have gained nothing.
Change starts with you. If we want to see revival, we have to first show people what revival is. Ask yourself: am I hungry for more of God and less of this world? Am I compassionate? Am I standing out in the midst of darkness? Do I consider all less rubbish compared to loving and knowing God?
Focus on the eternal.
This world? I don’t have to point out how overwhelming it is and how it changes every day we wake up and scroll through the news. Although we must remain awake to our surroundings, we will not touch this world when we are always succumbed to the distractions it holds. When you are working hard down here, point people upward. When you are running your race, remind people of what the finish line is worth to you. When you seem like you are catching all the woes of this earth, remind your soul of who your Jesus calls blessed. When you seem crazy fighting hard against mediocrity and injustice, remind those around you of the God who is worth it all.
Blessed are the ones who are hungry and mourning and betrayed, for they trust the One who is unseen.