The Blessed Life? – September 13, 2022 (273-275/365)

I was supposed to allot more time to typing yesterday, but I was reminded of a dinner celebration I needed to attend, and ended up with just my supplementary thoughts to observing Communion.

And now that I think about it, I’ve seen how it may be possible that we wouldn’t just be clarifying our collective narrative about the religious practice… no, I’m actually seeing the possibility of said ‘religious practice’ turning into an actual, more practical gathering. I don’t know where I’ve read the term ‘communal meal’, but it’s because of this other perspective of Communion that I’m reconsidering the flow of how a ‘worship service’ can go.

So far I’ve noticed that a typical Christian worship service is composed of singing, then a leader discusses his or her insights from Scripture. Some folks still observe Holy Communion just on the first Sunday of every month, while other evangelical services have been doing Communion as frequently as they would in a Catholic mass – that is, every Sunday. Speaking of a Catholic mass, there would also be the possibility of dedicated time to exhort on and/or discuss Tithes and Offerings – and if a service wasn’t to include said dedicated time, the leader and/or emcee would at least tell the congregation where to give online and/or where the boxes are to leave their envelopes.

Before the pandemic our particular church also allotted time for prayer – we’d encourage the congregation to group into 2-3 people, and to catch up with them, probably introduce each other, but eventually they would pray for each other.

Has anyone ever thought of centering a ‘worship service’ on the meal? I mean, we’d all come together and eat and drink, in remembrance of Christ, and keeping in mind the possible risks as Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians? We’d all come gather and have a meal, maybe not all in one table, but probably small groups eating together, talking about a discussion point, with light praise and worship in the background?

I’m sorry, I just had to let that out. I didn’t want to dwell too much on that, more of just putting it into paper before I present it to my team for them to consider. Maybe this would give us more motivation to pray for our own personal office as the Aces, and maybe we’d follow the pattern of another Pastor whom I consider a very great mentor of mine – It’s not too complicated, he just has a cafe where all sorts of people would gather and commune, and if he had a Bible study, or if any co-pastor had to gather their own people, his place would be the perfect venue.

Ah, anyway. I wanted to get all of that out of the way before I talked about something that I also wanted to let out and post, before I forgot about it. And, I mean, it’s something I probably touched on before, but we’re going through it again – The Sermon on the Mount, and more specifically, the Beatitudes – from the lens of Christ and His finished work.

There was a lot of hype as last Sunday approached, because we were having what the church called a dear friend coming all the way from Singapore. This Doctor is a philanthropist and a psychologist who was, indeed, a dear friend to our late Senior Minister; he was also a mentor of sorts to this Minister’s son. For the day we requested him to minister in our church, the leaders of the Sunday morning services decided to have one big worship service in the morning, instead of having the poor Doctor talk three times on the same topic. And speaking of his topic, well, it was centered around our needing to let our light shine among men – I personally would have wanted him to talk more about the overwhelming nature of the Light that we bear, versus putting more than expected focus on the growing darkness and our role in said shining of the Light. You know, overflowing the everlasting Love and Light of Christ, instead of forcibly sharing and speaking to one and all whenever you can and however you can.

I still think there’s a difference between sharing the Gospel out of the overflow of your heart, versus shouting the Gospel for people to hear ‘before it’s too late’; The flow of peace is just so much more effective compared to the sense of urgency.

Don’t get me wrong – I do believe this world is headed to oblivion, and the entire planet is hurtling towards a reality ending disaster, sure. BUT in the face of this I still believe that what Christ accomplished on the cross for each and every one of us (1) is something only He could pull off and (2) infinitely more superior to anything else in this world. That’s the motivation behind our intentional, systematic, deliberate communication of the Gospel – not out of fear, but out of perfect Love.

Sorry, I got a bit out of track there. But I guess it had to be said and pondered upon, in the name of building up towards what I really wanted to write about, which was what our dear Doctor talked about in the afternoon. Most of the hype was centered on this, actually – His talk on what he called ‘Keys and Principles to the Blessed Life’.

Before I go any further I think it’s important for me to mention that I was pretty open about how I absolutely did not want to attend this seminar, nor did I want to fellowship with the rest of the leaders in the joint morning service. However, I only realized how selfish I was when we all came together in a meeting before the actual day we had the good Doctor with us, so I’ve had to dress up and attend, trying as hard as I could to have an open mind. And that’s how I came up with all that I shared just now, also how I came up with what I’m about to share.

The graphic that we all were asked to introduce weeks before yesterday showed how he was planning to break it down – the keys and principles were apparently divided into 4 categories – ‘Know thy Self, Know thy God, Know thy Works,’ and ‘Know thy Pain’. I thought these were going to be the root topics, but apparently as I went along and listened, I figured out that he was taking all of his material from his interpretation of the Beatitudes. And with all due respect to him, well, the pattern was pretty much the same – for you to have a blessed life, you need to be poor in Spirit. You need to be meek. Merciful. Pure in heart. I’m sure he’s had tons of exposure with other people, and for all his experience, he was certainly not shy in sharing how we have the tendency to be rich in arrogance and independent (versus being ‘poor in Spirit’ – which, by the way was explained the same way when we talked about this in Religion class back in college); He got the people thinking of how we, Christian or not, have the tendency to be boisterous versus meek, unforgiving versus merciful, worldly versus being pure in heart… in fact, let me just go ahead and pull up Matthew 5:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“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.”

Matthew 5:1-12

I’ll admit I don’t think I wasn’t really paying much attention to what he said about the second item, but I do appreciate his deep dive into the word, ‘comfort’, where he points out its roots – the way I understood it, to comfort someone is to call that person (come), with the intention of being present with him or her, and to act so that he or she would be fortified – you can listen, you can chime in, you can encourage, but to comfort is to do these things with the intention to fortify them.

But anyway, following the pattern I’ve heard too often, it sounded like the focus was being brought back to the performance of the individual. If you want to inherit the kingdom of heaven, be poor in spirit. If you want to be comforted, mourn. If you want to inherit the earth, be meek. If you want to be satisfied, then hunger and thirst for righteousness. Be merciful, be pure in heart, be a peacemaker instead of a troublemaker, rejoice when you are persecuted. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t give the Doctor a full chance, meaning I didn’t listen to everything that he had to say. And this may come off as a little inconsiderate, but I already had a response in mind, just in case anyone asked me about my thoughts on what he said.

I believe up until now that what comprises of what we call the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount – well, I agree with what Dr. Andrew Farley has to say, that these weren’t additional things to observe on top of the Law. I agree with what he pointed out – that Christ said all this in order to add infinitely more weight to the Law, with the intention of pointing out that we couldn’t observe the Law, much less adhere to it forever. Christ wasn’t speaking in hyperboles – was that the term? – when He was telling the predominantly Jewish multitude to pluck out their eye or cut off their hand if it causes them to sin. He was saying all this to say that the Law was perfect and holy, and we’ve been missing the mark, AND we’d be foolish to think that we could even come near hitting the mark.

But here’s the thing. Just as we would appreciate the Lord’s Prayer in a different and more glorious way if we saw it through the lens of the finished work of Christ, so we can see the Beatitudes, and have yet another glimpse of just how much we have now because of Him and what He did for us.

Christ cried out, ‘It is finished!’, and the veil in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem was split, torn from top to bottom – this meant that there was no longer any holding back the presence of God into this world and this reality. Oftentimes we say that the veil was torn and we now had access to the Father – and I agree with this, but I would dare say that it’s a two-way street: Christ finished the ministry of reconciliation, and just as we now have access to the Father, so the kingdom of heaven now has access to us! And because Christ guaranteed that we have the kingdom of heaven, so we can say that we are blessed, even if we are ‘poor in spirit’: discouraged and drained. In fact, because we have the kingdom of heaven, and we have the Creator of all things with us, oh, doesn’t this humble us to levels that render us ‘poor in spirit’?

You see the pattern here? I talked about how our comfort possibly involves us being called to be fortified, but the Parable of the Prodigal Son comes to mind – The extravagant Father didn’t even call or wait for His son to come! No, as soon as He saw him He was the One who ran out to him – By his robe his shame was covered, by his sandals he was given rest, and by his ring he was restored… what comfort! We who mourn, wouldn’t stay mourning for much longer, especially when we realize the lengths God took in order for us, the sheer magnitude of all Christ did, just for us to be comforted!

Our souls, indeed our entire beings have now been satisfied, being set free from the chains of sin, our former master, and being brought under a good Father of Righteousness. Considering we have satisfaction beyond what the world would define as pleasure, well, I imagine that, like I said earlier, it doesn’t have us share the Gospel from fear… but see here, it has us legitimately hungering and thirsting for righteousness, all out of the satisfaction based on the death we’ve been rescued from, and the Life that we have, now and forever!

And I could go on – in fact, let me go on.

Because we have been given mercy by no less than the Lord Most High, so we are able to give mercy, even if morals and ethics are on our side. We’re able to give mercy when nobody expects mercy, sure as Christ gave us mercy even when we didn’t deserve it. His mercy is a blessing that allows us – motivates us to be merciful.

We’ve read in cases as elaborated on in Exodus 33, that we could not see God, lest we die. Such was the case when the nation of Israel was under the Old Covenant. But now that Jesus Christ has instituted the New Covenant by His blood, behold – we can now approach God’s Throne of Grace (versus Esther who risked her life to have an audience with Cyrus), and not only can we approach, but the writer of Hebrews says we can approach the throne with boldness! (Hebrews 4:16), calling God our Father, all this much more than merely seeing Him! We praise God, that because we have such a privilege to not only worship Him, but to lift up prayer, thanks and supplication to Him, it only further confirms how Christ has truly made us righteous – pure in heart!

…And speaking of the Spirit whom we have, and by whom we cry out to God, calling Him our Abba Father… That same chapter in Romans, in fact that same set of verses which tells us where be stand with God by the Spirit – it says that all who are led by the Spirit of God are Sons of God. And this is why it’s equally important for us to appreciate Christ’s ascension to heaven, because in so doing, we were seated in the heavenly places, since He was seated at the right hand of the Father. I believe that through Christ’s ascension our beings beyond our mortal flesh have been brought into the infinite and eternal heavens, so consequently, the infinite and eternal heavens have been poured out into our mortal flesh – by way of the Holy Spirit, the confirmation of our salvation, and He who not only leads us to call God our Father, but convicts us of our righteousness, reminding us that we have been adopted and made sons and daughters of God.

And why is this important? It’s important because without such a realization of the reconciliation Christ paid such a great price for us to enjoy, we would not make any sort of progress in proclaiming reconciliation, and making peace with ourselves, and peace among others in this reality. Simply put, we have been made more than ambassadors, but sons and daughters of God – in our celebration of this Truth, peace and reconciliation follows naturally. Blessed are the sons of God, for they are peacemakers.

How am I doing so far? I’m breezing through all this, and there may be some details here and there that I want to say but forget about, but I’m enjoying this a little more than I expected – and I hope you, dear reader, are getting something from this as well.

We’ve been reconciled to God, given the freedom to enjoy the heavenlies now and forever, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoy us. And I believe, noting that I say this boldly even before anything may overwhelm me in the future, that it’s from all that Christ has done that we rejoice, and it’s because of our being with Christ, as He is with us, that we can be glad, even when we are persecuted, and even when we are reviled, and all sorts of evil is spoken against us falsely, even in His account.

My main point here is that you can try to follow all the Beatitudes, or you can turn to Christ, to see all the beautiful attitudes His finished work has led us to overflow.

You know, at one point I was trying to fight the urge to speak against the good Doctor – He is, after all, a friend, and a friend of the church. And in this struggle I was led to recall a point of a graphic shared by PragerU – we confront not to condemn but to clarify… and it does help to understand that we clarify in the name of finding common ground. He shares Keys and Principles to a Blessed Life. I just sort of shared Strategies FROM a Blessed Life in Christ. And there lies the common ground – we both want those who listen (or read) to have the blessed life, and I think we’ve both come to that conclusion.

You can consider Christ and His finished work done for you and to you. While you were a sinner He loved you and gave His life for you. Or, you can try to give it your best shot, try to prove yourself to God, ultimately realizing that it’s through Christ, who gave more than His best, but His all, just so that you are reconciled and proven to God.

Either way, you are humbled, and you are led to Christ, giver of the Blessed Life.

Friends, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this post – a little bit more on the Communion, and now, the Beatitudes. I’m thankful, as always, for your attention, but if you have any sort of questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to communicate.

Until the next post, be blessed.

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