Blessed Are the Lightweights

I’m a lightweight. This is the conclusion to which I am coming as I once again study of the Beatitudes and wonder, “Whatever does it mean?”

What does it mean to ‘blessed?’ Everyone is always saying “bless, you” like it’s some magical happily-ever-after birdseed being thrown about at a wedding celebration. Have these same people read the hard words of Jesus?

When you are poor and desperate, heartbroken, powerless—you are blessed.”

I have been in all these circumstances. They did not feel blessed.

When you are merciful, newly pruned, and a peacemaker—you are blessed.” Implied in these circumstances are the offenses in need of mercy, the cutting away and scrubbing off of the impure, and the conflict for which someone must resist warfare.

I have been in all these circumstances. They did not feel blessed.

In point of fact, I do my best to insulate myself from such situations. These are for the brave and vulnerable ones.

Vulnerable | adjective: 1. Capable or susceptible to being wounded or hurt. 2. Open to moral attack or criticism.

Like most of our English words, ‘vulnerable’ is susceptible to being overstated and under practiced, in spite of Brene’ Brown’s best efforts.

I am a lightweight to the tough demand of Jesus and the vulnerability it requires.

***

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time keeping my mouth closed about different situations that so easily woo my commentary. Name it. Call it out. Pound a fist on the table, throw some hip into it, and boss everything in life back into order.

Shhhh!” I hear. “You have nothing to offer. It’s okay to cry about it—it is a sad reminder of what isn’t yet that should be. But don’t get confused—meekness is not weakness. It is only deferring power to the One who has true strength.”

***

Scot McKnight defines the blessed this way: “Blessed: Someone who, because of a heart for God, is promised and enjoys God’s favor regardless of that person’s status or countercultural condition.”

When looking at the text where we find the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, two notable features jump out:

  1. The promise of the “Kingdom of Heaven” (MT 5:3 & 10) sandwich these circumstances of profound vulnerability.
  2. Right smack in the middle of the sandwich—the meat, if you will—is hungering and thirsting for righteousness (MT 5:6).

Do you not hear the voice of Jesus in the hungering and thirsting?

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink” (JN 7:37-38).

and

I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (JN 6:35).

The Kingdom of Heaven is given to those who have discovered their greatest riches are nothing more than the pauper’s empty hands, open with desperation to receive their next day’s deposit of grace.

The Kingdom of Heaven is present in the comforting of those who mourn for the ashes of life to once and for all be replaced by the crown of beauty and festive oil (Is 61:3).

The Kingdom of Heaven is experienced now as practice for enjoying the reign of God whose power is mercy and judgment is love.

Friend, is the darkness thick with no glimmer of light? Does the waiting mock hope? Does everything feel out of your control? Do all your efforts come up short?

Good news: Your longing for things to be set right can be found in the one whom the prophet declares, “is our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:6). Jesus, the righteous One who became our righteousness (I Cor. 1:30)—in His presence we find the blessing, the favor of God.

***

Is there risk in being you—in your poverty, broken-heartedness, and powerlessness—in the presence of Jesus? Yes, of course. But as Brene’ Brown so aptly replies, “Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It is the birthplace of everything we are hungry for.”

There is no blessing without vulnerability.

Are you hungry for acceptance? Jesus says, “Come. As is. No need to dress up. Come as you are…and be blessed.” Come to the blessing of his presence. Let your heart rest in His righteous sufficiency. Sit in the gaze of God’s favor. Leave the hustle of work and worry and Martha’s nagged refrain, “Lord, do you not care that… ? (LK 10:40). Let the power and beauty of His presence dull the edge off the circumstances and fill your heart with his love. “Blessed are the lightweights–the scared, the weak, the can’t-do-it-on-their-own, for in the presence of Jesus their hearts will find strength.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” MT 5:6.