We talked about reading this passage from three perspectives:
1. Those who heard Jesus’ messages directly—his disciples, and others who followed him and listened to his teaching. While Jesus connected with all kinds of people, the Gospel accounts make it clear that he sought out the marginalized, the oppressed, the poor, the persecuted. Jesus had a special compassion for outsiders. Much of the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes, seems to be directed at these people.
2. The people in our world today who are most like the people in Jesus’ original audience. While we (the western church) usually read the Bible as if it were written directly with us in mind, the truth is many of Jesus’ words communicate more clearly and better retain their original meaning among those who are marginalized in our time. While each of us suffer in ways, few of us in the west can understand the level of suffering that millions in our world live with.
Thousands of people, many children, die daily of malnutrition. Millions have AIDS, children are orphaned, millions don’t have any medical care…there is incredible suffering and mourning and injustice in our world, and very little of it actually impacts us.
3. We talked about what the sermon says to us. How are we to receive Jesus’ promises for blessing?
One point I made was that Jesus is not just promising to bless us, but he is asking us to use our wealth and power and ability to be a blessing to others. God has chosen to use His Church to bring blessing to a hurting world.
We need to be careful to not just read the Bible to see how God wants to bless us, but for how He wants us to join Him in blessing others.
At Convergence, our calling to bless others is lived out by supporting artists—being friends, listening, encouraging, buying art, attending shows and concerts and readings, exploring our own creativity so we can learn and connect with God and each other.
I also hope that we will begin to look for ways to use art and creativity to help those in our world who suffer far more than we do.