Blessed not Cursed
Who do we think are fortunate or blessed by God?
The rich and the famous?
Wealthy, well-fed and clothed, who can have anything they want?
A-list celebrities, influencers, who everyone loves and speaks well of.
The popular ones
But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Luke 6 v 24 - 26
This is so radical, so alternative!
This is completely the opposite to how the world see life. There are stories of stars who can't handle being famous, but we all want people to speak well of us. We all want to be popular.
False prophets tend to say what people are itching to hear. True prophets say what they have heard from God, which is often unpopular and unwelcome!
How challenging are the words of Jesus for those of us who are wealthy in this life.
He promises us all we need, but not all we want.
Treasure in Heaven
Jesus sees material wealth through different eyes:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Luke 6 v 20b - 21
Jesus Christ came to preach the good news to the poor.
I know this can be read as 'Blessed are the poor in Spirit' and 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,' but there is something about the humility of the poor and their neediness that invites God to work in their lives.
They are too aware of their need of Him.
Alternatively there is something about the arrogance and lack of perceived needs in the life of a wealthy person, that doesn't encourage God to work in their lives.
They don't think that they need Him.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God
Mark 10 v 25 (NIV)
Jesus also sees popularity from a different perspective:
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
Luke 6 v 22 - 23
In the West we may be insulted, excluded and rejected because of our love for Jesus, but we are unlikely to be persecuted. However, some Christians face death for the sake of Christ.
I remember hearing one preacher from a country that used to be part of the USSR, say that when he is threatened with death, he expects to see God working in the lives of the people around him. I have talked to others, from a different country in the Middle East, who don't even consider death threats as persecution because they are so commonplace.
I have friends who have lost their job when their boss has discovered that they are a Christian. I know mild-mannered Eritrean brothers and sisters who have been labelled a threat to the youth and to the state. I have dear friends who have been rejected by their family because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
All of them have suffered and have been hurt. It is difficult to see how the persecuted church is blessed, but this is how our Lord sees it. He understands as he was insulted, rejected & persecuted.
Listen to Mojtaba Hosseini's Story
I think that these scriptures can only be understood if we remember that our life on earth is short and an eternity in heaven stretches out before us.
Even in "Christian" countries, however polite we are, if we follow Jesus we will offend people in the world. They will exclude us, insult us and even reject us, saying we are evil, but if this is because we are following our Lord, we will be rewarded in heaven.