The history of much of Christianity chronicles our failure to take Jesus’ foundational teaching in Matthew 5-7 seriously. We understand his words best if we ask ourselves as we read: what is Jesus seeking to redefine? What do we need to rethink? What is one concrete way we can respond?
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matt 5:4
What kind of mourning is Jesus talking about?
What kind of comfort can we expect to receive?
What does this have to do with God’s kingdom and our own lives?
QUESTIONS FOR MICRO-CHURCHES & PERSONAL REFLECTION:
Before watching today’s video, read:
Matthew 5:4, Isaiah 61:1-3a, Revelation 21:3-4
After watching, discuss/reflect:
After watching the video, reread Isaiah 61:1-3a. Revelation 21:3-4. Do you hear these words differently now?
What are some significant things that you have mourned over personally in your life? Who or what brought you comfort?
Name some historical or present situations involving Christians participating in systemic harm or oppression. Does mourning seem like an appropriate response? Does it seem like enough? Can you imagine a way God could bring comfort, freedom, healing?
What do you think grieves the heart of God? (If you like, take time to sit in prayerful silence with that question and share if you sense an invitation from the Holy Spirit/Comforter after a time of listening)
Take a look at a few translations of Matthew 5:6 and notice the differences. (Here are some for your convenience)
“Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be fully satisfied!” (JB Phillips)
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” (The Message)
“Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who hunger and thirst for wrongs to be made right again. They will eat and drink until they are full.”(First Nations Version)
Read Matt 5:6 and then read the story of the Jesus feeding the 5,000—Jesus literally feeding the hungry. The Jesus Storybook Bibles’ “Filled full!” (P 244) is great.
What do you hunger and thirst for? (Doesn’t need to be a ‘spiritual’ answer!)
What wrongs in the world are you most aware of?
Do you agree or disagree with Kim’s theory that behind each of our own longings is a desire for right-relatedness?
Is there a specific aspect of this “right-relatedness” you are hungry and thirsty for? Is God inviting you to do anything in response to this hunger and thirst?
Read Scripture (including for Littles):
Read Matthew 20:29-34 several times aloud as a reflective reading. This can be the Bible reading for the Littles among you as well…you could even act it out or read it in parts like a script.
Here are two versions of Matt 5:10-12 (read aloud)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (TNIV)
This one for everyone but especially for Littles:
Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are you when people make fun of you and hurt you because of me. You are also blessed when they tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. 12 Be joyful and glad. Your reward in heaven is great. In the same way, people hurt the prophets who lived long ago. (NIRV)
Questions for Micro-Church Discussion and Personal Reflection
For Littles (or anyone else):
Can you imagine a time when doing the right thing would be hard, but also important to do? What do you think Jesus means when he says we will be blessed?
For everyone else:
Have you experienced persecution for being a Christian? Does Kim’s distinction between persecution and marginalization resonate with you?
Read about a methodology for defining religious persecution from the world watch list LINK
How does this reframe your answer to the first question?
How might being persecuted offer you a taste of the kingdom of heaven?
What opportunities do you have in our own life to do what is right, even if it isn’t easy?
Read the brief story or two of a persecuted Christian and consider writing a letter (or email) of encouragement Learn More
Here is the Christianity Today article Kim referred to:CLICK HERE