Google+ 12/07/12 Leap for Joy!

Luke 6:20-23

 

 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,

“God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.
God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.

What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you

And mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.

When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy!

For a great reward awaits you in heaven.

And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. 

 

Many of you will recognize our Scripture lesson today as what is called the Beatitudes of Christ.  If you are new to Christianity, you will struggle with this passage of Scripture.  If you are a time-tested Christian, you will struggle with this passage of Scripture.  The reason is simple.  This passage of Scripture, like most of Christianity, deals with a paradox that has plagued Christians for generations.  Jesus illustrates in this passage from the gospel of Luke that "If you want it, you need to give it away!"  Say what?  Yes, Christianity is a collection of opposite thinking that on the surface makes no logical sense.  Look at our Scripture.  How can the poor inherit anything, let alone God's Kingdom?  How can you be satisfied if you are hungry?  You mean to tell me if I am weeping, I am soon to be laughing?  Blessings are about to be found when  people are hating, excluding, mocking, and cursing me?  That is exactly what Jesus is saying.  If you have been a Christian for any period of time, you know that following Jesus is difficult.  People do make fun of us.  I often tell people that I will pray for them.  What they don't realize is that I actually do pray for them!  They walk away making fun of me and usually utter that phrase that all of us have heard at some point in our Christian walk,  "He's just a Bible thumper."  If they mean that I open my Bible every day and use it to pray for them, I am guilty as charged.  If they mean I physically abuse them with my Bible, they are 100% wrong.  Jesus does the thumping, not me!!  Remember that Jesus is speaking to His disciples here.  They are beginning to experience the distaste of the crowd.  Jesus no longer has "rock star status" with a lot of the crowd.  Being next to Jesus all the time is becoming a liability.  People are being rude and mean.  So Jesus basically says to the disciples, "What did you expect?"  Jesus also tells the disciples that the crowd doesn't get it.  If you become poor because you have helped someone else for Jesus, you are really rich.  If you are hungry because you gave someone else food, you will not be hungry anymore.  If your heart is breaking because of someone else's pain, God will soon bring joy and laughter into your life and theirs.  If you are preaching Jesus in the marketplace, great rewards are yours when people make fun of you.  Here is the big one.  Be joyful when all these things happen.  Are you kidding?  How is that possible?  After all, we are human, right?  I have a suggestion.  When someone criticizes or complains, try agreeing with them.  If someone says, "Wow, I am really angry today" just say, "Yes, it appears you are."  It stops people in their tracks.  Often they will say, "Well, I'm really not that angry."  Your response is "that's right!"   See how that works?  You are being joyful in the midst of complaints and anger and it rubs off.  So today, leap for joy in the midst of ugliness.  After all, Jesus says, "Great is your reward in Heaven."  That's good enough for me.  How about you?  Being a Christian often costs us money, makes us hungry, beats us up, and puts us in difficult times.  Jesus says that our life here on earth with probably be brutal.  Wasn't His?  But be joyful because His retirement benefits are marvelous!