Profound (for me anyway)
There is only one big listing of the teachings of Jesus and that is in the sermon he gave from a mountain. The sermon starts with a series of couplets called "the Beatitudes." Each couplet starts with "Blessed are you when..."
So, I've been thinking about blessing...not just in terms of being 'happy' but in more of an ancient sense. In terms of being favored...especially by a father. The concept of blessing as a combination of favor and inheritance. (Like in the story of Jacob when he tried to steal the blessing from his father.)
With this thought in mind, I read the Beatitudes substituting: "You have God's favor when..." for blessed. It opened a whole new way of seeing them...
Random Cathy's translation of Matthew 5...
The poor in spirit have God's favor, their inheritance will be the kingdom of heaven.
Those who mourn have God's favor, their inheritance will be comfort.
Those who are meek have God's favor, their inheritance will be the earth.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness have God's favor, their inheritance will be satisfaction.
Those who are merciful have God's favor, God will show them mercy.
Those who are pure in heart have God's favor, their inheritance will be to see God.
Those who create peace have God's favor, their inheritance will be to be called the children of God.
Those who are persecuted because of righteousness have God's favor, their inheritance is the kingdom of heaven.
Later in the book of Matthew, Jesus tells a story about judgment. ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
I find I write a lot about living counter-culturally. But this message by Jesus is far more radical than any idea I've ever had in my head. Embracing poverty, meekness, mercy, peace and purity is counter-cultural. And--as it would seem from the passage above--something that God favors.