30 Days of Thanks #7- A Backward Gospel
Throughout the month of November I am writing about the first thing for which I am consciously thankful each day. I am doing this simply as a way to be more intentionally grateful. For more on this project, check out the first one or even last year’s 30 Days of Thanks.
My friend, Gowdy Cannon, posted a series of statements about the Beatitudes on Facebook that were extremely challenging. He took each criterion to be blessed and paired it with its promise to construct an illustration of what a modern Facebook post might look like if we were truly living out Jesus’ teachings. Although I have comprehended the message of the beatitudes I have always struggled with a proper application of these seemingly-strange conditions for blessings. Perhaps his thoughts will provide some clarity for you the way it did for me.
Matthew 5:3-11 (ESV)
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
With much gratitude for his work and permission, here is the discussion from Gowdy Cannon’s Facebook:
I hear people often talk about and write about how their great family life or their safety or their freedom makes them “blessed”. And not that they don’t but the Bible is largely silent on calling us “blessed” because of them. And in studying Matthew 5:1-16 for Persecuted Church Sunday this week, I wonder what Facebook would look like if we considered ourselves blessed based on what Jesus said:
Today I faced a situation in a relationship that caused me to feel helpless, weak and without control. I couldn’t do anything but cry out to God. #blessed (Matthew 5:3)
Today I cried for 20 minutes after my English class because one of my students is having trouble with the material and desperately needs English to get a job and I don’t know what to do. #blessed (Matthew 5:4)
Today I felt tempted to cave to lust in a way that could end my ministry. I am crafty enough to get around my accountability. I cried out to God to “lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” #blessed (Matthew 5:6)
Today I have been struggling with bitterness over the way people have treated me when I made myself vulnerable. I remember how much I have been forgiven and that helps me to let it go a little easier. #blessed (Matthew 5:7)
Today I found out about a woman who has small children and just lost her husband – her only source of income. I did something anonymously to help her because I think she is Jesus. #blessed (Matthew 5:8)
Today someone asked me why I based my whole life around what Jesus did and I replied because only he can provide peace that comes from the turmoil of sin. #blessed (Matthew 5:9)
Today one of my friends prayed with her child in public and someone told her she was wrong to do that because it is like brainwashing the child. #blessed (Matthew 5:10)
After studying them [the beatitudes], I have determined that they are culturally-backward, inside out, upside down and counter-intuitive, just like “lose your life to save it”, “the first will be last”, “gains are losses”, and “love your enemies”. I have learned from the best resources available for word studies that the word “blessed” means things like “happy” and “having favorable circumstances” and “to be envied.” That is amazing to me when you look at the list! Should I be envious of people who are persecuted?
Thanks for the message, Gowdy.
Today, November 7, I am thankful that the blessings in my life are not dependent upon worldly success or my own ambition, but upon my willingness to live as Christ commanded.