Then he looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. (NRSV)
This isn’t how we would have written this.
These words from Luke are his account of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” where he taught about what the kingdom of God truly looked like. When we read them, we are immediately uncomfortable by them and would wish that they had been watered down or not included in Luke’s gospel. To be honest, we wished Jesus hadn’t said these words at all.
What we would much rather of heard was this:
Blessed are you who have a home, a car, and a good job, for you who are rich will truly enter the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who have more food than you could ever eat, for you will be honored.
Blessed are you who have no time to connect to the pains of other, because your schedule and agenda is valued.
Blessed are you when you are famous, popular, and well liked, because you have truly followed God’s kingdom.
Jesus doesn’t say any of these things.
We wish he did. Why? Because they would have been much easier to swallow than his words from Luke 6:20-22. What Jesus does, here, is to change the game. No longer would the rich and powerful be considered worthy simply because of their position in life. Jesus’ kingdom, truly the kingdom of God, would be welcomed to all people. No one would be left out.
In fact, those who we often ignore, criticize, look down upon, and shelter ourselves from are the ones Jesus says is blessed. This is not what we would want, but it is truly what God desires. God desires for the church to reflect this. The church should be a place that is open to everyone. It should not matter how much you make, what you look like, or where you came from. All that matters is that you love God and seek to live in community with each other. If you desire that then the doors of God’s kingdom are swung wide open for you.
Are you living into this? How do you view the poor? The hungry? The depressed? The forgotten? The hated? The rejected? The outcast? Are you welcoming them into the church? Or are you keeping the doors of the kingdom shut to them?