Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. – Luke 6:20-21a
These words were spoken by Jesus in what is called The Beautitudes, a part of The Sermon on the Mount.
I wonder how this crowd received these words from Jesus. How would I have reacted if I’d been poor, hungry and listening to Jesus say this?
I think I would be wishing He’d add, “you will no longer be poor and hungry!” But He didn’t. Is this good news?
What did He mean, what was He giving, when He said “yours is the kingdom of God.”?
And what is the kingdom of God?
First, let’s define it. The kingdom of God is where He reigns; it is where the will of the King is done.
Jesus lived continuously in His Father’s kingdom. So, how did He live? Firstly, His words reflected His Father. “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.” (John 12:49) He didn’t criticize, belittle people, speak fear or discontent. And He was always truthful! He loved with His words…always!
Secondly, how did He act? John 5:19 tells us “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” One of the reasons Jesus came to earth was to show us His Father – so He acted how His Father acted. What was that?
He cared about every person He met – even the religious leaders, although their unbelief and hypocrisy angered Him. He cared about the crowds, feeding them on at least two occasions when they had been with him for a long time. And, He didn’t walk into a crowd calling out everyone’s sins and failures. He loved them right where they were, and called them up to who they would become in Him. And He healed and delivered those who either came to Him, or were brought to Him. I’m thinking of the man at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed him and told him to go and sin no more. He didn’t broadcast his sins to those around, he didn’t shame the man, he just said to sin no more.
He cared about His disciples, taking them aside to rest and/or explain things He’d said. (Sometimes this was difficult, considering the crowds that tended to gather wherever Jesus went.) Even though He might have been tired, He was never too tired for them or their questions. Jesus is still this way. He is never too tired or too busy for us. He likes our questions.
So, in the kingdom of God, we are not only loved and taken care of, but we love and take care of others with our words and actions. Sometimes this means giving some of our riches to those who have less, at the Lord’s leading, knowing that He will take care of us.
In the kingdom of God, there is no sickness. All the promises of God – what the King says is true – are alive and active.
The poor that He was talking to would be much better off in His kingdom. Who wouldn’t?
What about the rich? Are they not eligible for the kingdom of God? In Matthew’s list of the Beautitudes, it is somewhat different. He writes in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I believe that if the rich, or anyone else, don’t hold on tight to their riches, they are poor in spirit. If I have riches, but I know they aren’t mine, but the Lord’s, and they are available to Him whenever He asks, then I am “poor in spirit.” Another example, a two-year-old clutching one of their toys and yelling “Mine!!!” is not poor in spirit.
So, in today’s climate, with the coronavirus making so many sick, with people losing jobs and income because of “social distancing” what does this say to us?
No matter our current situations, no matter our current needs, there is a blessing, a promise in this for us. God can use ANYTHING to give us a blessing. He is working in the middle of all this mess, even though He didn’t cause it. If we look to God and His Promises, we see His whole kingdom is promised to us. In fact He said at various times that It is within us, near us, and among us.
Sometimes I get so bogged down in what is going on around me that I forget to look up.
So, LOOK UP, not at the problem. Focus your thoughts on His truth and His promises.
To get you started, here are some good words from God, who is above all this, who is not wringing His hands wondering what to do.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (close by, aware of what is going on, watching over His people). Do not be anxious (fearful, worried) about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving (not for the virus, but for His care and provision, even if we don’t see it), present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (post about such things, talk about such things). Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4: 4-9