Please think with me today: What are your blessings? And what are the blessings you seek?
I heard the following contrast in a sermon the other day (by Charles Zimmerman of Calvary Church in Souderton, PA):
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others 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 so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
That was Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. On the other hand…
Blessed are the rich, for they will acquire for they will acquire whatever they desire.
Blessed are the self-confident, for they will achieve whatever they set out to do.
Blessed are the physically attractive, for they will be admired by all.
Blessed are those who have no problems, for they will enjoy life.
Blessed are the powerful, for they will rule the earth.
Blessed are those who seek pleasure, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the self-absorbed for they will be untroubled by the plight of others.
Blessed are those who have seared their conscience, for they will suffer no guilt.
Blessed are those who intimidate others, for they will win all personal battles.
Blessed are those who blend in with culture, for they will experience no persecution.
Your reaction may be similar to mine. At first I thought, “Okay, that’s cute…”
But as I thought more deeply, I realized just how true – and troubling - it is. We live by that second value system all too often, certainly key portions of it. Maybe the problem is that we think Jesus’ words are merely “cute” – and fail to take them to heart.