Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Good Place to Be

All Saints’ Day [Observed]
Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Matthew 5:1-12

Are you hurting? Has someone you love spoken words to you that still ring in your ears and sting as if you were hearing it for the first time?

Are you feeling low? Are things so far out of your control that you wonder if God is in control?

Are you struggling with a particular sin? One that is on your mind a lot? One that racks you with guilt when you do it but that finds its way back into your desire?

Do you feel like your growth as a Christian is more like taking three steps forward and two steps back? Do you read the Bible and the words seem to fall flat?

Do you just go through the motions in life? In your faith? Are you so caught up in the day to day things that have to get done that you wonder where the meaning is to all of it?

If any of these things resonate with you then you might realize that you have an even more serious problem than these things that are disconcerting to you:

Why is it that you’re a Christian if you’re having these struggles? Isn’t being a Christian supposed to be better than not being a Christian? Doesn’t God promise to bless His people?

And yet, here we are with all kinds of struggles; with sins we continue to commit; with envy of some of those who aren’t Christians and yet who seem to not have all the problems or cares that we do.

So where is our answer? If we compare our ourselves and our situation to those in the world who don’t have a care for God then we’ll find ourselves wondering if they might really be better off.

Or, we could do what God’s people have always done: listen to the Word of God. It’s true, God’s people haven’t always done this well. At times they’ve neglected the Word of God or disobeyed the Word of God. But the Word of God has always been there.

Certainly before you and I were around. In fact, before anything that exists came into being, the Word of God was in existence. But not only is the Word of God words that are spoken or written, but Jesus Himself is the Word made flesh. He is the eternal Word and in today’s Gospel reading He speaks in one of the more famous parts of the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount.

When Jesus speaks, He brings about what He says. He is not just imparting information. The Beatitudes are not just beautiful sayings. It’s telling that you could go into a gift shop, or even the house of worship of a religion other than Christianity, and see the Beatitudes shown as inspirational material.

These words are not just telling us what we need to be like so that we may be blessed. They are telling us who Christ is and how we are blessed in Him. We are blessed because He brings it about. He blesses us through His speaking the blessing to us and placing it upon us.

How He does this is by showing us Who He is, not how we are to be. We already know how we are—we fail miserably at trying to be who Jesus calls us to be. Rather, when we see the Beatitudes, we see Christ.

And when that very Christ speaks His words to us He speaks into existence His righteousness in us. By His speaking His blessings to us we are blessed. God did not become human flesh just to tell us what to do. He did it to give us Himself.

When He speaks of the poor in spirit He speaks of who we are in Himself. It’s one thing to be poor. It’s another to be poor in spirit. Those of us who struggle as we do as Christians struggle because our sinful nature is powerful. It’s constantly trying to get the upper hand in our lives.

But we also struggle because because it’s tough to be a Christian. Christ didn’t save us to take away all our problems, He saved us to deliver us from our sin. And just as He saved us because we needed to be saved He likewise helps us because we need help!

We have no claim on God of ourselves, as shown by our struggle with sin and our struggles in general. He alone can provide all we need.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” If you look at all the Beatitudes you will see the common theme of being poor in spirit. Of being humble and lowly.

Jesus is showing us that though He is God He has become poor for our sakes. Paul says in 2 Corinthians: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”

This really puts a different perspective on our struggles! While we find ourselves wishing to be free of them our Lord embraced them! He became as we are yet without sin. And even more, He died for our sin!

Isaiah points us to our Savior: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted.” We are blessed because Jesus has come to us in our need.

We truly are poor. We are truly in need. Christ comes to us with His blessing. Namely, He comes to us with Himself. In our Baptism. In His Holy Supper.

Are we at times down and out? Do we struggle with sin? Are we at times not happy where we’re at as Christians? Christ comes to us where we’re at.

That’s a good place to be. Amen.


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