Luke 6:20-23 (CEV)
20 Jesus looked at his disciples and said:
God will bless you people who are poor. His kingdom belongs to you!
21 God will bless you hungry people. You will have plenty to eat!
God will bless you people who are crying. You will laugh!
22 God will bless you when others hate you and won’t have anything to do with you. God will bless you when people insult you and say cruel things about you, all because you are a follower of the Son of Man. 23 Long ago your own people did these same things to the prophets. So when this happens to you, be happy and jump for joy! You will have a great reward in heaven.
Kingdom Breaks In
There’s a tumbled-down ramshackle house downtown with far too many people living in far too small a space, each being charged far too much money for rent of a room that is barely big enough to sleep in much less to live in. But when Vox Kids show up with backpacks in hand stuffed to busting with Christmas presents each year, and God blesses these people who are poor, the Kingdom breaks in for them in a really tangible way.
A few months ago the Vox moving crew moved someone in, and somebody on the team noticed that they had neither packed up or unpacked any food. So they went over to the grocery store and filled a cart with the basics and brought it back and unpacked that as well. That week there was plenty to eat, and it felt like the Kingdom had broken in for this family that day.
Friday night some friends went out together. They cried over a new diagnosis. They talked through the possibilities of what this could mean. They hung out together until eventually the tears became laughter. Everything isn’t fixed. The pain is still real and has months of reckoning to get through. But that laughter was a blessing of Kingdom breaking in to one of the darkest places of a person’s life.
It’s easy to read these words and take the wrong message from them. I’ve heard people jump to the assumption that they mean that we should all try to be poor or hungry or grieving. Or that they mean that you’re a better person if you’re poor or hungry or grieving. Or that these words are just a mistake, because there is clearly no blessing to be found in being poor or hungry or grieving.
I don’t think any of those conclusions would be right or just or fair.
But I still love this passage.
I love it because to me it spells out what the Kingdom is going to look like.
I love it because to me it tells me how I can start joining in with the Kingdom-breaking-in work that we’ve been talking about for the last two months.
I love it because to me it takes the big esoteric God stuff and boils it down to really straightforward, practical steps that we can get on with doing today.
If we want to know what God would do, we should find ways to bless people who are poor.
If we want to know what God would do, we should feed people who are hungry.
If we want to know what God would do, we should walk with those who are crying through their pain and their grief and their brokenness until laughter comes back again in ever-increasing measure.
If we want to know what God would do, we should stand up for, stand beside, make friends with, include and bring community around those who are bullied and exposed and shut away and degraded by our society.
This is what Jesus does throughout the pages of Luke.
This is what God will someday bring to completion.
This is the story Jesus invites us to join into today.Journal Questions:
- I know our church. I know how many of you are already doing these things every week. That’s why this place is so cool. If you’d be willing, I’d love to hear some stories of what you’ve been up to. I’d love to share some of these ideas over the next little while. I’ll keep them anonymous, but they might just be the encouragement someone else needs to hear.
- If this isn’t a regular part of your life yet, that’s fine. This isn’t meant to be a guilt trip. But each of us is invited to join in the incredible privilege of Kingdom-breaking-in work. So I extend the invitation – what could you do?
- How could you bless someone who is poor today? (Hint: it might or might not involve any money!)
- How could you feed someone who is hungry today?
- How could you show up for someone who is grieving today?
- How could you stand up for, stand beside, make friends with, include or bring community around those who are bullied, exposed, shut away or degraded by our society?
- If you’re still not sure, I invite you to send us an email and ask for a suggestion of how you could help.