Matthew 5:1-10 (Message)
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
Wow all I can say is wow! When I read these verses this morning in The Message translation of God’s Word, it literally gave me goose bumps and the hairs on my neck stood up. Instead of a vision of a man thousands of years ago in a flowing white robe speaking to strangers on the side of hill in ancient Israel, it became a personal and intimate encounter with the Lord in my quiet place. Jesus took those who were committed and climbed above the crowd to speak sweet and encouraging words to His Disciples, these were His Beloved. Not because they were any better than anyone else, but were connected to Christ beyond fascination and gawking. These men left their whole lives behind to follow Christ. As He ushered them deep into His Presence alone on that hill, He spoke to them – directly to them. His Message that day – “You are blessed!” The Lord knew that they could sense the hostility of their religion, the overwhelming wave of new followers and immense responsibility perhaps potential loss at following Him. He wanted them to get a different perspective so high on a hill the Lord took them. Arriving at the top, He would change their perspective.
I needed a change of perspective. You know the kind you get in an airplane in the middle of a storm, when you have to climb higher and get above the clouds to see that the sun really exists and that this too shall pass. Just before the small vessel gets on top of the wind, rain and heavily burdened overhang of electricity and power – it feels like it may be crushed like a can and tossed back to the ground. But then as the aircraft makes its way through and suddenly there is absolute stillness and quiet. We feel the pressure, pain and hardships in life for a reason. There will always be suffering as long as there is sin in this world. Not to mention those things that just don’t make sense and clearly defy justice and all that is right, but we must get over that and rise to the top. The institution who I am employed by is in the midst of a terrible storm with hurricane winds and torrential rain. Our head administrator arrested and the police report outlining every misdeed that they could find against him for all the world to see along with a mugshot making sure there is no mistake that “this guy” did it. Yep, it was him. I read the report. I was there in the midst of it all yet unaware of the activity going on all around me. The Lord spoke to my heart and I am overtaken with gratitude that He has spared me the embarrassment and humiliation of such an experience. My sins on display to be judged by the world. Imagine if the whole world knew everything you had done wrong. Thanks to the Gracious Gift of Salvation, I will never have to face up to my transgressions as my sin is whisked away into forgetfulness. As I follow Christ, I have learned that to gain this world and lose my soul would rob me of the hope that I have so I will give up this life to be where He is. This experience has been a stark reminder that the only thing standing between me and the accusations of the enemy and every consequence that I deserve is Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Sitting on that hill listening to Jesus, it is clear that there is purpose and meaning in every storm of life. If we lived perfect unaffected lives no one would ever be able to understand this glorious power and wonderful grace that we have been given. The church is a place for broken people to be made whole but there will always be a scar that points us back to Jesus. We are the Light of the World. Light shines through our brokenness to reveal God’s Love that completes us from the inside out. Your life is on display for a reason. You are pressed not to be crushed but so His Glory will spill out of you and overshadow your life to encourage other people. The most generous people who give their heart to Christ are willing to give themselves to others.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” This battleground called work has caused many casualties. Lives completely destroyed that were invested carelessly. I thought that I was safe above the ridicule and harassment in the order I created of rule-following which I am pretty good at. No such luck, they came for me just like everyone else trying to expose anything that was newsworthy and even making things up that were not true. I was mad. I was frustrated at the injustice of it all. I know we didn’t do the things that they are accusing us of in their attempt to destroy another. I cried out for justice. I fought with other administrators pleading my cause. But then I tried something different, I asked the Lord for peace. He gave it to me. I know who I am. I know WHO I belong to. I am good with that. He will fight for me. He will honor His Promises. I have confident hope that no matter what happens to my employer or workplace that this world has nothing for me. I want to encourage you today, too! You are blessed if you believe. Nothing else is needed. Nothing can be added or taken away from the Promise and Plan for your life. It is all about His Glory. The enemy cannot take God’s Glory from Him. He cannot rob Jesus of His Fame. It will shine for you in the darkness if you choose to reflect the Love of God and His Salvation in every situation. Position yourself as close to Jesus as you can get. Diving for cover in His Presence. Staying there until the storm passes. His Grace is ALWAYS sufficient for you! You were not created by chance but by your Father with love. Nothing in our life is random. There is purpose and meaning in each season and in the next it will produce a harvest of righteousness when you plant the Word of God in your life watering it with tears if that is all you have left. Be content with who you are in Christ even if no one else notices. Besides does anyone else really matter?