In today's passage, Jesus identifies four different ways in which we may be blessed. To be blessed means to be highly favored by God and to be truly joyful in heart. As we shall see, Jesus has some very strange ideas about just who is blessed.
Jesus tells us that, if we embrace marginality in reality and in truth, we get to participate in his kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is present wherever Jesus is present. We participate with him in his kingdom whenever we witness to his freedom, truth, love, and vitality. If we do that with any consistency at all, we will most certainly be marginal—in reality and in truth—in relation to the six conventional gods, the society and culture we live in which is based upon them, and the vast majority of people we live with because they are devoted to them.
If we are, then we will not need to seek comfort in Olympian distractions such as TV shows or computer games through devotion to Vulcan, sexual stimulation through devotion to Venus, gambling through devotion to Pluto, or eating and drinking through devotion to Bacchus. Instead, we will be comforted by Jesus whose Holy Spirit, burning brightly in our Christian hearts, will bless us with such fruits as love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22).
Jesus tells us that, if we are humble, we will inherit the earth. Certainly this will happen in the age to come when Jesus returns in glory and definitively establishes his kingdom here on earth. Yet it happens even now wherever he creates space, amidst any Olympian kingdom, for Christians and churches to exist.
“Righteousness” means rightly ordered in relation to Jesus, one another, the rest of creation, and within ourselves. Jesus tells us we are highly favored and truly joyful when we have a sense of urgency about getting that done. Getting that done means strengthening our devotion to Jesus, communion with fellow Christians, courtesy toward other people, care for creation, and development of our Christian personality.
Righteousness includes justice. Justice is the right ordering of relationships between individuals and groups in society. Laws are just when conformity to them creates this right ordering. They are unjust, and our society grows structurally disordered, when conformity to them discourages or destroys this right ordering.
Jesus tells us that, if we seek this strengthening of rightly-ordered relationships with some Spirit-led sense of urgency, we will see it happen.
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