“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.”
Matthew 5:3-5 New Living Translation
The Sermon on the Mount may give us the best picture of what a world where God Space and Human Space (i.e. Heaven and Earth) become one again. In this teaching, Jesus defines many of the values that are key to the Kingdom of Heaven as compared to the ways of humanity. The opening statements of blessing may well be the foundation for what this Kingdom looks like. Instead of a kingdom based on pride and arrogance found through personal achievement, God values the people the world would most often look past. Jesus points to the poor, those who mourn, and the humble as the ones God truly blesses.
It would take a lot of faith for the people in His day to believe what Jesus was saying here. The reality they lived in painted the picture of a very different world. Israel was now under the control of its 4th successive empire (5th for the northern tribes). Rome was a harsh empire that rewarded violence and treachery over peace and justice. Their religious system was filled with corruption that focused on preserving their institutions and keeping themselves safe from Roman intervention more than they cared about justice for the people they were supposed to serve. In that type of world, it sounds nice to believe that humble people will inherit the earth, but reality seemed to say the humble simply were kicked around by the powers of the day.
Jesus didn’t ignore this reality. These statements of blessing end with an acknowledgment that when you live this way, persecution will happen. When you stand against the corruption of the world, the world will respond with accusations and persecution. People who live by the values Jesus calls for will stand out. Their very way of life will point to the corruption existing around them and it will make people nervous about their possible loss of power. Jesus told His disciples to expect persecution and to be glad when it comes because they were walking in the tradition of the prophets of old who stood against corruption in their day. These were the people that God was going to bless from an eternal perspective even if they saw nothing but persecution on this side of eternity.
We also live in an age of political corruption and oppression of the humble. Even our religious institutions often appear corrupted as we see the name of Jesus used to endorse values on both ends of the political spectrum that are opposed to the things He taught in the Sermon on the Mount. It can be hard to still believe that things like humility and peacemaking are ever rewarded. Still, we can look back through the lens of history and see the many times that corrupt empires have eventually fallen under their own weight. In that we can see that God is still purifying His creation from the corruption brought on it by Satan and the fall. Those who have held onto the values Jesus taught had a strength within them that caused them to believe in the reality of God’s Kingdom in spite of what they were seeing around them. We have the opportunity to walk in this same tradition and trust that God is still in the process of turning the corrupt systems of the world upside down.
Jesus, you promise that the humble will some day inherit the earth. We live in a world that doesn’t always look that way. Help us to keep the faith in Your promise that the world can be changed.