At the adult Sunday School, currently doubling as a New Members/Inquirers’ class, we worked our way through chapter 2 of Presbytopia. This excellent little book provides a concise but thorough overview of basic Christian doctrine and Reformed theology and practice. Our focus this Sunday was on God and his attributes, including the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. This is a subject best considered in a meditative and reverent spirit. Though God is infinitely greater than us, and though we cannot know him exhaustively (Deuteronomy 29:29), what he has revealed to us about him is more than enough to fill our hearts with praise and wonder. “Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).
At the morning service I preached from Luke 6:20-26. In this passage Jesus declares four blessings (the beatitudes) upon those who are his followers, and then declares four corresponding judgments of woe upon those who reject him. And with each blessing and woe, Jesus declares that one day God will bring about a great reversal. Those who are poor now will enjoy the full riches of the kingdom of God, but those who are rich now will have no consolation. Those who hunger now will then be satisfied, but those who are full now will then be hungry. And so on.
These words of our Lord are meant to comfort and encourage us in our walk as disciples of Christ. Those who know Christ are poor in spirit (that is, humble before God), are hungry for Christ and his righteousness, are grieved by sin, and endure the opposition of the same world that opposed and rejected Jesus. But Jesus promises things will be turned upside down – or rather, right-side up – in the age to come. In that day, we shall possess all the riches of God’s heavenly Kingdom, our hearts will find perfect joy and satisfaction in Christ, we will laugh the laughter of the joyful, and we will be blessed with a great heavenly reward.
Yet to embrace a life of impoverishment, hunger, sorrow, and rejection goes against everything our flesh (our sin nature) yearns for. We want riches, fullness, laughter, and popularity, and we want these things in abundance in this life. How can we find true blessedness in the sort of deprivation Jesus describes?
The answer is to look again at the beatitudes and see a picture there of the Savior. Relative to his glory as the Son of God, no one was poorer than Jesus (Philippians 2:7). He hungered in this life as he sought his fullness not in earthly food but in accomplishing the will of his Father in heaven (John 4:34). He was a “man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). And of course he was rejected by the world he came to save (John 1:11).
Jesus was all these things for you and me. He suffered in all these ways that we might find our treasure, our fullness, our joy, and our acceptance in him. As we fix our eyes on our Savior by faith, we can then walk in his ways and find blessing in the very things the world says give us only woe. And we can rest secure in the hope that the best is yet to come. In Christ, yours is the kingdom of God.
At the evening service we continued our slow but sure march through the Heidelberg Catechism. With Lord’s Day 42 to guide us, we considered the implications of the 8th Commandment, Thou shalt not steal.
Soli Deo Gloria!