The Upside-Down Blessing pt 9 – It’s Worth It

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

You know at first glance this blessing almost reads like a repeat/elaboration of the last one: When you do the right thing, you may get persecuted for it but… Jesus invites you to think of the prophets here and… this last blessing is actually an invitation.

It’s an invitation to ministry.

Lessons From the Flannelgraph

I was just on the exiting age of this fantastic piece of Sunday School technology in Children’s Church. We had a truly wonderful teacher who in her retirement years diligently set up the flannelgraph for us kiddos as she taught the lesson.

In case you don’t know what a flannelgraph is, it’s a giant board with flannel on it. You stick little cutouts of other biblical characters and scenes on it. Those items are also backed with flannel… so they only kinda stick. Our teacher, however, was a wizard with that thing, and the stories came to life… yeah I’m old, but it’s not so bad =)

All of this is to say that even as a little kid, there was a distinction between me, and someone like Elijah, or Noah, or Lazarus who had somehow earned the right to be on the flannelgraph! They were Bible heroes, I was just a kid who liked to draw superheroes and army battles on the edges of the church bulletins.

That distinction persisted into adulthood. As I continued to read about people in the scriptures who I idolized as I read… the key part about that being “these people are different… they were special.” And the unspoken, subconscious attending thought of “I’ll never be like one of them”.

I’ll never have the justice of Moses, the courage of Esther, the empathy of Jeremiah, the compassion of Ruth, the openness of Peter, the faith of Mary, the humility of Paul… and let’s not even suggest being anything close to the holiness of Jesus.

They’re up on the board… and I’m just listening to their stories.

An Upside Down Invitation…

In this final upside-down blessing, that distinction between you and Elijah, between you and Rahab… it’s removed. You are invited to see them as human beings, real ones… just like you.

And you are invited to join them in the work of God.

Yes, Christ acknowledges, if you receive and live out these upside-down blessings, you will be stepping into a place where you have conflict with the world. It will be cultural, ideological, philosophical, and sometimes very real.

You may be reviled, you may be persecuted, there may be evil… All because you are willing to step forward in Jesus’ name.

But this is not a call-to-arms, rather a call to serve, to love, to show the world the Kingdom of Heaven. This is what faithful people have been doing since the very beginning. Yes, there will be conflict, but it is absolutely worth it.

Some people will push against the Kingdom of Heaven, but not all. The prophets who came before you did have some success. God worked through: Moses to lead the people out of slavery, Esther to rescue an entire generation, Jeremiah to breath hope into hopelessness, Paul to bring light into darkness, and Mary to bring the very gift of Christ… on and on and on…

And you are invited to be a part of that. Your faithful actions, your willingness to walk in the way of Christ, your ability to receive and live these upside-down blessings…

Will put you on the flannelgraph!

Not as someone to be idolized, but as another bringer of the light of Christ into this world. This blessing is an invitation to do ministry… in your context… in your spaces… with your gifts…

One day, your story of faith will be told. One day, the impacts of your decision to follow Christ will be known. One day you will see just how much God was able to bless this world through you.

Be encouraged that though faith can be hard, it is always worth it.

Be encouraged that you do not walk this Christian path alone, you have brothers and sisters who have walked before you.

Be encouraged that these upside-down blessings are worth it! They point to the light that God wishes to shine in our hearts, and upon the very world itself!

Hear the call to do ministry in your style, in your place, with your people, and share the goodness of God.

It is absolutely worth it!

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