Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Blessed Are You Who Are Poor...
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets...
Give to everyone who begs from you.
The blogger asked...
What did Jesus mean when He said "Blessed are the poor" if He didn't mean "You should all be poor and stop trying to help poor people because you're stealing their blessing"?
Are we supposed to aim to be poor, hungry, hated? And are we actually mandated by our Lord to give to everyone who asks of you without considering anything at all (like "Is this a con?" or "Would that be in their best interest?" or "Is there something better that I could do for them?")?
Or are we just supposed to take these things at cold, hard, face value, give up all our possessions, and aim for starvation -- you know, in order to be blessed?
And opened it up for conversation, which hasn't really happened much at his place, so I thought I'd bring it up here.
For my part, I take this fairly literally. I think when Jesus said, "blessed are you who are poor," he meant just that. I don't think he was encouraging us to BE poor necessarily, nor was he suggesting that we ought not HELP the poor (obviously, since he has taught that elsewhere). I think Jesus meant just what he said, "Blessed are the poor..." and "Woe to you who are rich."
Why? Why are the poor blessed in God's eyes? I suspect the point here is that God is with the poor, on the side of the poor, identifies with the poor in very real, very tangible ways.
Conversely, I think "woe to you who are rich" is there because, as the Bible teaches, wealth can be such a trap, such a stumbling block that it can lead to such grief.
I don't think it means that you can't BE rich and a Christian, just that wealth brings with it a certain amount of woe, of sorrow, of things that tend to trip us up.
I think Jesus meant just what he said but we ought be careful not to wrongly extrapolate beyond what he said. Obviously, taking the rest of Jesus' teachings into consideration, we ARE to help the poor, so we'd be wrong to refuse help to the poor because they are "blessed," that would be a wrong extrapolation.
Interpret scripture using scripture. Interpret the individual passage through the whole of scripture. Interpret through the lens of Jesus' teachings.
Doing this, I think we can safely assume Jesus meant just what he said here.
What do you think?