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God’s Blessing Is a Given | Life to the Full

I’ve been hanging out in Jesus’ words to people of his day that come in Matthew 5. They contain a list of blessings, beginning with blessings to the people we would least expect: the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn. Scholar Dallas Willard once called these people the “spiritual zeros,” the ones who have no obvious reason to receive God’s favor. 

But Jesus then turns his attention to a different set of people.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:6-9).

These are the ones who are zealous for mercy and justice and peace. These are the leaders of nonprofits, the community organizers who campaign in the streets, the underpaid public defense lawyers. Depending upon your political leanings, you might envision them as #BlackLivesMatter protesters or people marching on Washington for the pro-life cause. God’s love and attention and care, Jesus says, is also lavished upon the ones who put themselves out there to advocate for what they believe to be good and right and true. 

God’s Blessing Is a Given

God’s blessing doesn’t come because of the righteous behavior or the zealous hard work. God’s love, God’s blessing, is not conditional. It’s a given. God’s love is a beginning point, not an end point where we arrive after we’ve achieved a moral scorecard with lots of gold stars. When we use our goodness to prove ourselves, we fight against God’s blessing.   

Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest who has lived and worked with former gang members in Los Angeles for decades. He writes that these “homies” (as he calls them) don’t need to change, but they do need to heal. They need to return to the deep truth about themselves that has been lost and trampled by their own choices and by the world around them. 

God Longs to Bless Us

Jesus also invites us to return to an understanding of ourselves as God’s beloved children. Whether we are the ones who are poor in spirit or the ones who are trying to prove our spiritual worthiness through peacemaking and justice, we all need to know that God bestows blessing upon us. Regardless of our decisions, regardless of our actions, God longs to bless us. And when we stop trying to prove ourselves, we can finally receive that blessing and believe that we are indeed the children of God.

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