Friday, August 29, 2014

blessedness... and inheritance

So, the outline of thoughts for this post has been in my "drafts" pile since the end of June... but, the months between then and now have only caused my then thoughts to become more cemented, so I will finally try to flesh out yet another part of what God has been teaching me during the last weeks.

These thoughts first got put into motion when a friend posted this article on Facebook, "The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying". Have you read it yet?? It basically questions our use of the word "blessed"... and asks us to reconsider what blessedness truly looks like.

The author's use of the Sermon on the Mount to illustrate what Jesus called "blessedness" stuck with me and made me want to dive deeper into my understanding of just what a blessed life looks like--a truly blessed life. Not just a "I Have Everything" life, or a "I've Got it all Together" life that we can all find ourselves working so hard to obtain.

I've heard the "Beatitudes" many times throughout my life, and--as often happens with much-heard things--the words can flow by without the mind being engaged. So, this time I began to look at it with a different version of the Bible (The Message).

I found that:

I am blessed when...
--I am at the end of my rope. With less of me there is more of GOD and his rule.
--I feel like I've lost what is most dear to me. Only then can I be embraced by the One who is most dear.
--I am CONTENT with who I am--no more and no less. That's when I find myself the joyful owner of everything that cannot be bought.
--I am hungry for God. Then HE is my food and drink.
--I show mercy. Then I will find myself receiving mercy.
--I get my inside world--mind & heart--put right. Then I can see God in my outside world.
--I make and/or bring peace... Instead of competing. That's when I will find my place in God's family.
--My commitment to God draws persecution. That persecution will drive me close to God.
--People insult me or lie about me to discredit God... because it is God's truth that is making them uncomfortable.

Did you see that? None of the blessings are material things, or desires granted, or generally any other thing we often call a "blessing" in our lives.Of the evidences of blessedness... 3 are states of heart-being or character. 4 are actions that should be our recognizable mode of living. Only 1 speaks of the blessedness of something received--and that something received is persecution.

Poor in spirit, spiritually needy, at the end of your rope, humble.
Meek, mild, patient, long-suffering, content.
Pure of heart, clean, unified, honest, sincere, genuine
God's Kingdom
The earth
Eyes to see God.

Seek righteousness, hunger for God
Give mercy
Make/Bring peace
A place in God's family

Our blessings received flow as the consequence of our state of heart and our way of action-choosing, not because we've put a quarter in the gumball machine and got what we wanted. And, the blessings are the things that draw us closer to God and His kingdom.

I don't know about you, but these thoughts have caused me to re-examine the things I think of as blessings... I am learning not to yearn after things that seem that they would be blessings, and to find myself being blessed in the in-between.

I also am analyzing the way I process scripture in light of this. I am trying to process things in less of a "do this so you can get this" way... and just process it in a "do this because in and of itself it IS a blessing." For example, the scripture: "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you." Maybe it's just me, but my selfish brain reads that like "Do this to get that", or "If you want something from God, focus on God-stuff for a while." For now, I like to just focus on, "Seek first the kingdom of God"... and just relish the blessing that seeking Him IS, in and of itself. For me, it's a mental exercise of seeking to love God for who He IS, follow him because He KNOWS the way, and seek Him because He is all I NEED... with the hope that I can unlearn the practices of the spoiled child: Being cute and sweet only when I want something.

During the processing of this, our pastor at church read a passage that I realized I had been reading all wrong before as well:

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:18)

For some reason, my process had been, "I pray your eyes are opened to all the riches you have as a child of God's." And, I think that is partially what it's saying. But, with my new way of reading... Where before I might have thought "The blessing in this passage is the riches"... this time, I read it as "The richness is found in the saints". Or, our inheritance as God's children is in the saints--or it is the saints. Meaning, our inheritance--our riches--is the family of people God has placed us in when we became one of His own. The NLT writes it this way: " I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called--His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance."

This really resonated with me. I truly believe that God wants me to see the spiritual family He has placed me in as my inheritance, as my riches, and His great blessing to me. If I truly believed that each person in His family was a direct gift from God to me... would I not treat them differently, give them the honor they're due, respect them and cherish them? Resolve to unite with and uphold them, and discourage competition and gossip?

It makes so much sense to me that the God who sees meekness, humility and spiritual hunger as evidences of a blessed life... would see surrounding that blessed person in a beautiful community of His cherished children as the greatest inheritance He could bestow. Because--you know what?? This "version" of blessedness works in any country, in any culture, at any time in history, in any economic or class level. That's why I believe it reflects God's heart--because He is not an exclusionary God, and His values are eternal, spirit values... not shifting, earthly things! And, of course God's inheritance would be one of community and unity--since, in and of ourselves, we tend to want to be one-man-shows and show our independence--our solitary rightness, as opposed to deferential love!

Yearning to have my eyes see the true blessings around me--to be "a blessed"-- to value what God values... and to let the rest just be extras!

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