What we called blessed or consider ourselves blessed by is often a good indicator of where our reality is at.
So, All Saints Day happened a few days ago. That wonderful time of year where we celebrate all the saints we’ve never heard of, and the few that we have. This whole saint thing is pretty new to me and I find it pretty fascinating, having not grown up in a denomination that celebrated saints. So this past week, I did a bit of digging and found that there are something like 2,500 official saints according to the Catholic church. But, if we include all other denominations, that number grows to over 10,000 saints. Probably 95% of which we’ve never heard of.
I posed the question: “What is a Saint?” to a few of the young adults at St. Albans, and here is what they had to say:
“A saint is someone who puts others first, and doesn’t do it for the fame.”
“A saint is someone who will often die because of their faith.”
“A saint is someone who we culturally uphold as a role model. It’s not chosen, but a communal identity we give to people.”
What I generally heard was great and informative. But, there seemed to be a lot of confusion around what exactly a saint is and isn’t. In its most raw and basic form, the lives of those who we call saints, are an incredible source of inspiration for those who are pursuing God.
I was met with a student a couple weeks ago to talk about the hard time they’re having with school, and with life in general. It seems like every week they get dealt a losing hand. And every time we meet, I find it more and more difficult to assure them that God is on their side. At a certain point, inspirational scripture quotes begin to discourage more than they inspire. A verse like, “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.” begins to lose its sparkle after being proven wrong time and time again. When we speak about blessing, these are the people I think about. What about you? Who do you considered to be blessed? Is it the people who have all the fancy toys? The ones who have a talent, that you wish you had? Or perhaps the ones that appear to have it all together?
What we called blessed or consider ourselves blessed by is often a good indicator of where our reality is at. There’s trend on social media right now where with people using the hashtag “blessed” to classify their photos and posts. As you may imagine, the posts range from, claiming the latest iPhone as a blessing, to the safety of loved ones during disasters like last’s week’s shooting here in Ottawa.
In light of our reading of Matthew 5:1-12 this morning, what strikes me about all these #blessed posts is not that they are superficial; though one could argue that. It’s the lack of posts like:
- “Just lost my job. #blessed”
- Or “My father just passed away, prayers appreciated.
- Or “I don’t really believe in God right now, feeling #blessed”
Because if I’m reading this correctly, these are who Jesus calls the blessed; the hurt, the sick, the ridiculed and the abandoned. But, these aren’t blessings! How could they be? If anything they’re the opposite! How could someone who appears to continually get screwed over by God consider themselves blessed? And what does this mean for those who don’t feel this way? Jesus can’t very well be suggesting that we need to be poor in spirit before inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven, can He? Perhaps, He’s showing how to look upon such people, and ourselves, with new eyes. Perhaps He saying that it matters deeply, who we call blessed. After all, what we call blessed is a good indication of where our reality is at. And the Kingdom of Heaven is not the reality we see now, though we do experience glimpses of it. So how does God see things? I believe it’s through a Kingdom minded perspective, in context of all history and beyond. And we are invited into taking this Kingdom perspective as our own, like putting on a new pair of glasses to see how God sees. And Jesus lays it out for us. What does this new perspective look like?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
(Matthew 5:1-12 ESV)
These are the things of value in the Kingdom of Heaven. The hurt, the hungry, the meek, and those who live for justice mercy and peace. This is how God sees. And I believe that every one of us can identify with at least one of these traits. Which leads us to an obvious conclusion.
Whether you feel like life is going well, or you’re in a situation like the student I spoke about, God looks upon you with favor. God calls you blessed. And when we accept this as truth for ourselves and the people around us, we begin participating in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. When we pray for “God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we commit ourselves to participating in that. It’s a call to action. A call to see as God sees and to love as God loves.
So may we as a community of people passionate about Christ, not settle for what we see around us. May we choose to embrace a Kingdom perspective. May we truly believe that there is no blessed and unblessed, that we are all favored by God. May our eyes be opened to see as He sees. And may we boldly live the call to action Jesus left us with: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. One earth as it is in Heaven.”