Happy and blessed 3: those who mourn

Happy and blessed 3:

Those who mourn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 ESVUK

Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Luke 6:21

Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Luke 6:25

I am losing faith in what I used to have faith in.

I am not losing faith in God, if anything I am learning to trust God more. What I am losing faith in are theologians. Western theology No one seems to take this verse literally, yet the context seems to be clear. Jesus is teaching his disciples and says Blessed are those who mourn. Many of them talk about longing for God’s forgiveness as being what Jesus meant here. I’m not so sure.

Jesus was clear about repentance and forgiveness. John the Baptist came preaching repentance, Jesus started his ministry by preaching repentance, he sent the disciples out to preach repentance and then seventy to preach… yes, you’ve guessed right, repentance. I don’t doubt that the message of these theologians about repentance. But why would Jesus who was up front and clear in his teaching about repentance hide this message in something about mourning and grief? And when the meaning of the words are clearly about grief, why would these theologians change it?

When looking for a free image to use with this blog  I found one showing a gravestone saying Ne vous affligez pas – do not grieve in English. But we should grieve. Jesus stated that those who grieve are blessed, already blessed by God. A lot of the Bible talks about the thing that we have already, but not yet, such as salvation. This is one of them. Those who mourn are already blessed, but they will be comforted.

We are looking at developing world problems from the perspective of the first world. I think we get it wrong for that very reason. Look at the rest of the beatitudes for an idea of what Jesus was talking about. He was talking to the disciples and working up to talking about Christians being persecuted. Under persecution, some Christians would die and a lot more would be bereaved. Being in mourning would become a normal part of being a Christian experience as family members, friends and fellow worshippers were martyred. Martyrdom is not a thing of the past, there are more Christians being persecuted now in the world than at any time in the past.

I am increasingly being drawn to the theology coming from the persecuted church than that from the comfortable theologians of the western church. Theodicy, the theology of why does bad stuff happen to good people is not a philosophy to be debated in universities in the west where Christianity is declining, it is something that is being lived in communities that face drought, famine and persecution, communities where Christianity is growing. Walking in dark places is not a sign of not trusting God, but an everyday experience of trust in God by people with nothing. These people more than those in the wealthy nations that God is good and can be trusted. An old poet put it like this:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4 ESVUK

 

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