Sunday, October 7, 2007

More blessed than you know.

I've been reading the Sermons on the Mount/Plains, and have noticed something interesting about the following two verses:

From the King James Bible:

Matthew 5:11: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."

Luke 6:22: "Blessed are ye, when man shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake."

If you read this verses alone, and just these verses (can you say "out of context?" I can!), all those Christians who falsely (although perhaps not just falsely, if looking at Luke?) persecute in Jesus' name are actually doing the non-Christians a huge favor, for they are "blessing" the non-Christians. The non-Christians are being persecuted in Jesus' name, which does match the two verses ... it doesn't match the verses surrounding this, but that's not the point. :)

In other news, I've been having this nudge to change the name in my blog. Not the title, but my name-name. I'm getting this feeling that it would be less than wise to have it available, as though someone in real life could stumble across it. Half the time, these nudges come true. The other half of the time, I feel like I'm paranoid. I'll err on the side of (paranoid) caution here, and am thus known as "OneSmallStep." If you abbreviate you, you can make a semi-snake sound. "Oss." Although, now that I see this, it's very similar sounding to "Ass."

My name may change again in the near future, due to this sudden revelation.

On the plus side, I can now refer to myself as, "The blogger formally known as so-and-so." And really, who doesn't want that?

22 comments:

John Shuck said...

I love it! Good luck on your new identity!

Anonymous said...

Personally, if it was me, I would go with A Small Step just because such things amuse me....But, guess I'll stick to my Hebrew name. It is somewhat more dignified I suppose. (Goat)

What does it mean to be blessed? That is my question. What I think of as being blessed and what Tanakh speaks of in terms of being blessed don't seem all that similar! If what has happened to us over the centuries is a 'blessing' I think we could do with a few less of them!

Avraham's blessing, having to wait forever to have sons who would never get along, owning a burial cave for his wife? What was Ishmael's blessing? Was Isaac's blessing that the son he loved wasn't the one God blessed, that his wife would deceive him in order to push forward the son she loved? Jacob's blessing to lose his favored son? The years of his life long and hard?

Blessings just seem like something that don't quite live up to expections. Maybe it's better to go through history unnoticed as compared those who have been the recipients of so much of God's attention!

Yael

Pastor Bob said...

In the Greek makarious means happy more than blessed. Which of course makes it even more difficult. As for Christians who persecute, I think there are a lot of people who think they are gonna get into the Kingdom that will be real surprised!

Anonymous said...

In the Greek makarious means happy more than blessed. Which of course makes it even more difficult.

Or perhaps it comes down to what does happy mean?

I looked around briefly at the connotations of the Hebrew word barukh, blessed, just to explore the possibility that although Matthew was written in Greek, perhaps the thought was more in line with Hebrew? Not much with the Hebrew either however. Bending the knee to someone/something, adored, one who receives bounty, and the one that might fit here - being the source of blessing.

Is there a Greek word which carries that meaning, being the source of blessing? One that could have been used instead of makarious if this was the intended message? I'm curious.

Yael

SocietyVs said...

Good points Yael - about the short-falls of Greek - much agreed upon - and I feel the same - namely concerning the gospels.

Blessed - what does that mean? Even a quick peruse of that word in english would obviously show it cannot mean 'happy' - blessed seems deeper. I think Yael is right on the money with 'the person who recieves the blessing'. Blessing - well this could mean anything (a kind word, encouragment, people looking positively upon you, some reward, etc) - but what we are sure of is - it is 'good' and 'noteworthy'. So the idea being connotated could be 'do these things and good will come to you in the end'.

New name huh...I'll have to call you OSS.

HeIsSailing said...

OSS,
I am sorry, but I read this article twice, and I don't really understand what point you are trying to make regarding persecuting Christians. Are you saying Christians who persecute Christians are blessed?

I don't get it.

I dig the new name. I might change mine to One Giant Leap (OGL).

OneSmallStep said...

HIS,

**Are you saying Christians who persecute Christians are blessed?**

Thanks for catching that. My words kind of tripped over each other there. I clarified in the post, so hopefully it flows better. That's what I get for typing this while trying to multi-task. ;)

I was saying that the non-Christians who are persecuted are blessed, because they are being persecuted in Jesus' name.

OneSmallStep said...

Yael,

** it was me, I would go with A Small Step just because such things amuse me**

Then I really would be ASS. :)

The concept of blessing is an interesting one. One thing that I see in both sections of the Bible, the Tanakh and the NT, is that following God is difficult. THis is because when you decide to follow good, or you decide to follow the light, you tend to put yourself out there, and open yourself to attack from those who would do evil.

But that's the whole point of following God, in my mind. To confront evil, and do what you can to eradicate justice. Yes, bad things will happen, because evil doesn't go quietly. The blessing is in doing good, but no one said that would be easy.

Does blessing mean good things, or does blessing mean watching evil vanish, one step at a time?

Anonymous said...

Um....eradicate justice? Ah, the difference two small letters, i and n can make in the world. Perhaps that is to teach us a lesson in the value of what seems so very minor on the surface? :>)

Here's something that I think you might find interesting. Judaism does not teach that we should try to eliminate evil. Rather we need to control our evil impulses and channel them for good.

"And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day." (Genesis 1:31) - Midrash: Rabbi Nahman said in Rabbi Samuel's name: "Behold, it was very good" refers to the Good Desire; "And behold, it was very good" refers to the Evil Desire. Can then the Evil Desire be very good? That would be extraordinary! But without the Evil Desire, however, no man would build a house, take a wife and beget children; and thus said Solomon: "Again, I considered all labour and all excelling in work, that it is a man's rivalry with his neighbour." (Kohelet IV, 4) (Genesis Rabbah 9:7)

I found an article that explains our POV in more detail if anyone is interested. 13 ways to become a good person

I also think about the light analogy. It seems to me too often people think being a blessing means performing laser surgery on everyone who doesn't see things their way when sometimes all that is needed is soft candlelight or even perhaps just the brief flickering of a match to help all of us see and thus bless each other. I also think that this is a hard thing to do. Flicking that bic is just so much less personally gratifying than using those lasers, blow torches and flame-throwers.

And just because I like to push things at times, maybe we're not always supposed to follow God or follow good. Maybe that's not even the hard part. Maybe sometimes we're supposed to lead God, lead good. Look at Jacob wrestling with God, looks at Avraham and Moses arguing with God. Following is much more passive, leading is taking responsibility.

Yael

OneSmallStep said...

**eradicate justice? Ah, the difference two small letters, i and n can make in the world.**

Lol. Maybe I should re-name this post, "Things I say that I don't mean."

**Here's something that I think you might find interesting. Judaism does not teach that we should try to eliminate evil. Rather we need to control our evil impulses and channel them for good.**

I do find that interesting. ANd it makes a lot more sense, because it's not blaming the person for failing to be perfect. There seems to be a lot less potential for guilt under this.

It's recognizing motivation and action, compared to just belief. It doesn't matter that you have the desire, almost -- it matters more what you do with that desire, and if you let the desire master you.

Anonymous said...

I think it also gets you moving instead of sitting doing nothing because you don't think your motives are pure. Doing good for the wrong reasons can lead to doing good for the right reasons, but either way, what is important is to do good.

Yael

Lorena said...

Congratulations on your new name!

I created a fake name from the beginning, with last name and all, and I've started to believe that that's the real me. Multiple personality disorder?

Or maybe not. Maybe I should change my name legally like the Bible characters did after they changed the curse of their lives: Jacob-> Israel, Saul-> Paul. It wouldn't be a bad idea to leave behind the very Christian, biblical name my parents gave me.

As for the verses you mention, well ,you are right. I feel blessed when a Christian curses me, calls me names, or tells me I am doomed for hell.

Heck, if going to heaven means being there with a bunch of self-righteous, hypocrites with a nasty know-it-attitude, then hell would be a much better place.

But I personally believe that most Christians--particularly the fundamentalists--already live in hell. Think about it, if dying only means losing our bodies, then the soul will continue to be as frightened, bitter, and lonely as it is today. A place many Christians--and non Christians--are all too familiar with.

SocietyVs said...

Yael, that was a really good article - so much food for thought in there - and some of the ideas were just awesome (and I will use them when I can).

SocietyVs said...

Heather - I never thought about that verse that way before - but it does make a lot of sense in our day in age (lol).

I think the original intent of the verse was about people being persecuted for the sake of identifying with Jesus - but I could see how those tables have turned a 180 and now people, ironically enough, are persecuting others in Jesus' name. Oh irony, your the shackles of youth.

OneSmallStep said...

Lorena,

**if going to heaven means being there with a bunch of self-righteous, hypocrites with a nasty know-it-attitude, then hell would be a much better place.**

Oh, I know. I wish sometimes that people like that would see how much harm they do to their cause -- if you truly want everyone to be in heaven, and yet act that way ... why would anyone want to be in heaven with that person?

**Think about it, if dying only means losing our bodies, then the soul will continue to be as frightened, bitter, and lonely as it is today.**

I think this works in terms of sin, too. If there's something "sinful" that you can't/won't give up, or don't even know you're doing, why the expectation that it immediatly goes away right after death?

Society,

**I think the original intent of the verse was about people being persecuted for the sake of identifying with Jesus -**

Oh, no doubt, hence why I said that context was irrelevent. ;) Because I think the next verse says that they persecuted all the prophets, so they'll persecute those who follow Jesus. I can't make that one work for non-Christians.

Anonymous said...

I don't spend much time thinking about any afterlife. This is something I wrote last year that relates to what you said OSS:

I’m just thinking about some things lately. When you die, where do all your thoughts and ideas go? Are they just returned to the universe for someone else to pick up? Do they just live on through those you have taught, through those who knew your thoughts and ideas and have absorbed them as their own? Is that how it works?

How can your thoughts and ideas go on with you to some afterlife without you having to keep re-living the same crap from your life now? Who would look forward to that kind of existence for all eternity? That’s one of the reasons I have trouble believing in an afterlife. If you take away all the bad from me, then am I still me? How can I be me in some other world without the bad? Isn’t the bad a part of what makes me myself? And what defines ‘bad’ anyway?

I can’t imagine existing in some perfect universe. It sounds incredibly boring. Although it is comforting to think our loved ones who have left us live on somewhere else, I have to say more and more I believe we live on through our descendants and through the good that we bring to the world, but that this is the extent of immortality.


Prophets deserved to be persecuted. What a bunch of jerks. Their words have be used as justification for the persecution of Jews for centuries, their words have been used to teach against Torah and Judaism. I think God repented of unleashing prophets on the world. What good have they done compared to the harm they have perpetrated in the name of God? Everyone who wants to beat up others with God claims they are a prophet, too. Puh-leeze....

Yael

Anonymous said...

LOL! Heather that is too, funny! You've too much personality to be thought of as so-and-so. I know that won't work!

I also like what you said about people separating over issues. I think we grow more if we ride out the conflict with one another. I think that is an important part of learning to love as God loves us. Anyway, I scare a few off sometimes too and next time, I'll remember that it is a blessing and not be sad.

Pam

Mike Ogden said...

I ran across a lady last week whose initials are PC and asked if she'd ever considered being a computer technician, but she said PC already worked well enough for her in the political realm. Then I realized my own initials, MO, remind my coworkers of a stooge. Now I am thinking my blog name, OG, suggests a caveman. Thanks for sparking a bit o' paranoia.

Peace,
Mike

SocietyVs said...

You know Heather - I think this idea has great merit.

OneSmallStep said...

Yael,

I think in-depth anaylsis of the afterlife is always fascinating, because you bring up an excellent point: if we are made perfect in the afterlife, then how much of that perfection is actually us, if we follow the thought that everything we are/do is tainted by sin? Wouldn't God get an almost radically different person, rather than who we are now?

The afterlife, when presented that way, always seems so static. Life today is almost constantly in motion, in some way or another.

Pam,

**I think we grow more if we ride out the conflict with one another.**

It also helps us work on that urge that sometimes appears that makes us want to bash the other person over the head with the "common sense" bat. For we, of course, have the common sense, and the other person is bundling around in the wilderness. O:-)

Mike,

**Now I am thinking my blog name, OG, suggests a caveman. Thanks for sparking a bit o' paranoia.**

Anytime!

Society,

That's what I love about the off-the-wall looks at the Bible. It's like there's an infinite number of perspectives for any verse.

JP said...

Heather,

Where are ya, need a post here!!

OneSmallStep said...

JP,

It's nice to know I'm wanted. :)

I'm in the process of moving, so things have been pushed to the side. But I have posts on the backburner, never fear.