Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What For

What’s the point?
Why bother? 

Most of us live for ourselves, even if it’s hard to admit.  We want to be loved, comforted, safe and happy.  Sadly these often elude us, and we find ourselves in distress. 

Many people seek out God for much the same reasons.  They see God as the One who can provide them the life they desire, and they believe if they are pleasing to Him, He will respond by giving them happiness. 

For people like this, the beatitudes and much of the rest of scripture can be disappointing.  In fact, this is one of our biggest issues for those who do the “three column” style study through the beatitudes.  While we focus on the “I will,” it seems to be at odds with what we really want.  For instance, who wants to be merciful when he’s been wronged?  That’s when we want justice.  Who wants to mourn, or have people insult us, lie about us, or persecute us?  If those things are “blessings,” then I’d rather be cursed!

Jesus and his audience (true disciples) are different, because they want something different.  The question we should ask is: How/why are these kooks willing to endure the very things most normal people so earnestly seek? 

The one word answer is: hope. 

Later in the S.O.M. Jesus will instruct disciples to store treasures in heaven and forget about earthly things, temporal things – or as the Hebrew writer says, “things that can be shaken:”
 “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.  Hebrews 12:27-29
Whereas most humans work for earthly treasure (money, attention, popularity, relationships, etc.), true disciples of Jesus place their hope entirely in God’s hands, which promises greater rewards:
“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”  (Luke 18:29-30)
Now back to our question: what for?  Why do God’s sheep want to follow Jesus?  The answer is in the second half of the beatitudes (Matthew 5.3-12), in each one, after the word “for.”  Check it out:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
for they shall be comforted
for they shall inherit the earth
for they shall be satisfied
for they shall receive mercy
for they shall see God
for they shall be called sons of God
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
for your reward in heaven is great
Remind yourself often by asking the question: “What for”?  And you’ll remember to keep your hope focused on the best things: receiving grace, being known as a child of God because you’re like He is, and to inherit the kingdom. 

Sometimes – especially those of us who are doing the three column thing – focus on the first half of each beatitude, and forget the “what-fors.”  If you’re struggling with life, or even to be obedient to God or these beatitudes, maybe you should join me in asking: What for?  What’s the point?  Why are we ‘supposed’ to show mercy, be hungry and thirsty, accept persecution, etc.? 


The promises of Jesus are based on the delivery of hope.  Hope is what we cling to, and never let go.  I show mercy/forgiveness to my brother, not because I’m happy that he sinned against me, but because I genuinely believe God will show me mercy.  I have the hope of the kingdom, that I can be a “son of God,” and that I’ll be satisfied and comforted! 

The great chapter on faith (Hebrews 11) demonstrates clearly that faith is a product of hope.  We believe … in the promises of God.  We hope for the outcome He promises us. 

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see.  
(Hebrews 11:1)

If you’ve ever felt hopeless, you understand.  Hopelessness is the ultimate destroyer.  We don’t want to work, to eat, to live.  When there’s no hope, there’s no reason for any activity. 

We become hopeless when we’ve been seduced by a false hope, and abandoned our true hope, which is in Christ alone.  If we remain faithful and true to the only real hope, we will always have a reason to wake up in the morning, and face the trials of life with smiles and praises for God. 
So … spend some time selling yourself on the “FORs” of the beatitudes.  Pray, focus, and “sell” yourself all over again on the reason for our hope.  If you will, you’ll remind yourself of the comfort, mercy, and inheritance promised by Jesus. 

He is faithful – unlike people, He will never fail us.  And unlike things of this world, His promises are eternal.  Believe it. 

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