As I sit here getting ready to write another simple post, I find myself reflecting upon the our last few days ministering out on the streets. I can’t help but think about the myriad types of responses we received yesterday and today to the simple statement, “Jesus loves you.” It has been simply amazingly complex. There has been what some may call “stereotypical” responses. The polite little smile. The complete absence of acknowledgment. To the gentle, “Thank you” (but I’m not stopping to talk to you).
All of these I have received many times over again. But this is not what has me so… excited, happy, perplexed, befuddled and amazed. These responses we received were… how do I say this…. Angry! Disgusted! Violent! Profane! And at times down right unpleasant. Now I have dealt with a lot of these responses before but no where near the amount that we did yesterday in downtown Portland.
Mary and I (Chris) went downtown to partake in what was being called “Flood Portland”. This was a part of the large Christian conference that is to kick off this week (at the time of writing this – 9/18/18) call “Compassion to Action- Portland 2018”. (www.portland2018.com) The purpose for this gathering in downtown is to reach out to as many people as we can, sharing the gospel and love of Jesus and invite as many people as we can to the upcoming event. We did this by handing those open to the idea, free tickets to the evening events the coming nights.
Now don’t get me wrong, we did get to stop and talk with quite a few people. And we did hand out those free tickets. But I have to say that there were some people who blessed us with their over the top, freakishly passionate, “NO!” I have to laugh at how passionately these few people were when it came to rejecting, not just the thought of someone speaking the name Jesus, but the shear love that we carried with that name. I laugh because if I don’t, I find my heart starting to break. Not because of their hurtful words or actions. But for the thought of the faces that have rejected the name of Jesus before man. Jesus said…
“He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16)
“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48)
These words crush me when I think that these people, if they refuse to change their beliefs of Jesus, will one day stand before Him and have nothing to do of Him. And they will be condemned for their actions and spend the rest of eternity suffering in hell. This simply breaks my heart. And I hope that it does yours, the readers, as well.
But when I think of these responses I also am reminded that because of them I am blessed. “How’s that?” you ask? Simple. Jesus said so. I have looked at what He has said in the gospels and took the liberty of combining the writings of Matthew 5:11 and Luke 6:22 accounts of Jesus’s sermon on the mount. The following is what I have come up with.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, (LK 6:22a) persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you, (MT 5:11b) and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. (LK6:22b)
Combined we see in deeper detail of just how much God is hated by the enemy. And this hatred is aimed at us who believe in Christ and have given Him a place within our hearts. Those who make Him Lord over our lives. These people have unknowingly blessed us by rejecting Him who has sent us. Jesus. And this is the eighth blessing that Jesus gave to us who love God. And get this. This blessing He says is one that we are to “Rejoice” over! What?!
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.”
“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Yay Jesus!!! Come on we just got a major blessing by walking out I faith and answering the call of our Lord Christ Jesus, our King!
Out of the eight blessings that we see in the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, this is the only blessing that Jesus uses the term “you” and not “they” or “theirs”. For the first seven are blessings that come from a response to the heart set upon God and His great love.
The first seven are the blessings we receive while being open and hungry for God. These are the blessings that come to those who have the mind of Christ and the heart towards Gods own heart. Knowing that we, on our own, cannot achieve any type of true greatness. But a person solely longing for God, humble and poor in spirit, mourning for the lost ones, meek and not full of pride, who hunger and thirst for not only the kingdom but the righteousness of God; showing mercy to all with a pure heart, bringing the peace of God thru Christ Jesus our Lord, “These” Jesus says are going to be the “Blessed” ones!
It is our attitude that brings the blessings of God to our lives.
“be-at-i-tude” – noun
Means – Supreme blessedness
Synonyms: blessedness, benediction, bless, ecstasy, exaltation, supreme happiness, divine joy, divine rapture; saintliness, sainthood
‘the everlasting beatitude.’
It could very well be this “Attitude of being” -or- “beatitude” that then attracts the hatred of man and the persecution they bring against those of us who live for Jesus and have received these incredible blessings from God.
Could it be out of the jealousy they have for our blessing that they reject us and say all kinds of evil against us? Could there be in the hearts of these angry lost men and women, the deep-seated desire to receive from God the blessings that we, who have this transformed heart towards God through Jesus Christ our Lord?
Out of the jealousy for what God has given us, comes the anger fueled by sinfulness driven by the hatred and resentment of the devil to God for not getting what we have. The Light of the World that shines into the darkness exposing their sinfulness. That sinfulness is keeping them from experiencing these blessings that they long for deep within their very souls.
God placed that desire for His blessings within our very design. I believe He wove it in our DNA. For some it was what brought us to the longing for salvation. But to many it became twisted by the devil into jealousy for what they cannot have.
The gift is there for the taking. But this gift, by nature requires the truth to be revealed.
So be blessed my friend the next time you tell someone that Jesus loves them, and they turn and lash out at you saying all kinds of evil against your falsely for His sake. And remember, Jesus said…
““If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)
Go tell the world that Jesus loves them. And be blessed.