Monday, February 3, 2014

The Blessed Truth

Matthew 5:1-12
Chatfield United Methodist Church
February 2, 2014
Rev. Debra Jene Collum

The Sermon on the Mount is an extremely difficult text to study. Because it turns upside down everything we have been taught about life. Or as Wesley said (paraphrasing): “we seek in all the wrong places and for all the wrong motivations. According to the Sermon on the Mount
Security comes from casting away the trappings of wealth rather than building wealth. Power comes from meekness. Peace comes from an honest look at ourselves.
Cast away all delusions and hear the word of God.”

As we delve into the rich, rich text of the Gospel of Matthew and particularly the Sermon on the Mount, I want us to spend some time this morning with a little word idea that has such vast importance in our Christian walk that we can brush it aside or unimaginatively interpret it so that it means very little to us.

It is that little word that gets translated ‘happy’ ‘blessed’ ‘fortunate’ at the beginning of each stanza of the Beatitudes. It is translated with so many different words because it is difficult to translate into English. Yet this little word can make all the difference between a purposeful life and one lived without meaning.
I want to stick with the translation ‘blessed’ today because I think that that word links with a central truth of God’s word in our lives.

We will, at the end of the service sing a beautiful song: Blest are They by David Haas: the chorus repeats with these words:
Rejoice and be glad!
Blessed are you, holy are you.
Rejoice and be glad!
Yours is the Kingdom of God.

I truly believe when we believe that this is THE TRUTH, the rest of the hard words of the Sermon on the Mount become easier to understand. I truly believe, I have put my life’s work behind this belief, that when we believe that this is THE TRUTH then we have the resources we need to live out the difficult truths of the Sermon on the Mount.

So just what does this mean: Blessed are you. In our Epistle lesson this morning we are told: the wisdom of the wise is nothing compared to the wisdom of God. The wisdom of the wise is nothing compared to the wisdom of God.

According to the wisdom of God because of Jesus Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing. WE are blessed with every spiritual blessing. (Ephesians 1:3)
Look at the bible verse on the front of your bulletin. Take this home with you and ponder it this week as you continue to read Matthew 5.

Blessed be the God and Father of Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.

Do you believe that? Do you feel that you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing? Could you testify to the fact that you are blessed with every spiritual blessing?

Some would have us believe that spiritual blessings are akin to material blessings. The more you have the more it proves that God is blessing you, that God likes you.
If that were the case then Jesus got it wrong when he taught: Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Others would have us believe that if life goes right for us all of time then we must be in God’s will and we must be in the center of God’s blessing for us.
If that were the truth then Jesus got it wrong when he taught: blessed are you when you are reviled or persecuted for righteousness sake for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Still others would have us believe that to be popular and have people like you and honor you means that God is looking on you with favor and rewarding you for your Christian demeanor.
If that were the way of blessing then Jesus got it wrong when he taught: Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

So if blessing is not being wealthy or happy or liked, if it isn’t fulfilling the American dream of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then what is being blessed?
And notice not only does Ephesians say we are blessed but also that we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

What is this tremendous blessing?
Hear this again: Blessed be the God and father our of Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

God chose us. And not ugly old us who we cannot always stand to look at because we think we are such terrible people but God chose us as people who stand holy and blameless before God. Do you see that in that verse? Holy and blameless before God in love. The most Holy Being in the universe chose us freely; chose us and calls us God’s chosen, blameless and holy ones. I want you to see this for yourselves because there isn’t much in the world to show you your holiness or your blamelessness and we need to see this so that we know whom we really are.
We are told we are too fat, too unhealthy, too compulsive, too controlling, too angry, too dimwitted, too stubborn, too assertive, too undisciplined, too.... whatever someone has accused you of this week, or whatever you constantly accuse yourself of.

It does not matter; whatever it is we are accused of is of no consequence. Sure we can learn from our mistakes and round out our rough edges, but the truth of our lives is: because God chooses us, beloved by God, we are holy and blameless before God. Say this with me: “We are holy and blameless before God.”

If you think that God ignores you or doesn’t think much of you, read these verses again and again. It is almost as if God is bursting through the seams to give us God’s blessings.

We need to be reminded of this, don’t we? (Especially if you will be taken in by the commercials during this evening’s big game) It is easy to look at our lives and wonder where is the blessings of God. We don’t have money or fame or security, so where is the blessing?
But that isn’t the blessing God promises us.  Actually, the blessing of money, fame or security is a lie. It is the direct opposite of what we are actually promised.

In Scriptures we see what is really God’s blessing. Being called God’s holy and blameless son or daughter. Being lavished with God’s love.
And this is open to everyone, poor, or rich or slave or free, male or female, child or adult. Our birth circumstances or our social standing makes no difference. No matter our past no matter our future. We are God’s.
And when we know we belong to God, are beloved by God are thoroughly and completely God’s child. Then, well then, the words of Jesus become meaningful. Because then we want to be whatever it is God wants us to be.


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