Who is truly blessed? As I watch international news my heart aches. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed many of them children, dozens of Jews, all the passengers and crew on flight MH17, almost 50 people in Tripoli, and an untold amount in Syria. This is not to mention the many innocent children and adults killed daily within our own borders. This list could go on but what it often boils down to is power and political advantage. What can we do?
I was recently talking about the conflict in Palestine with one of my closest friends, as we felt helpless to do anything. Hundreds of civilians are losing their lives and we have little power to change that. Many people take sides and root for their country of choice but how many are praying for the innocents caught in these battles. Every life lost represents a son or daughter, a mother or father, a friend, and human worthy of living a full life.
We excuse these battles by pointing fingers at who started it justifying another political powers right to kill civilians. This is hard for me to understand. As I prayed for the people in the various countries Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount continually surfaced to my mind.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are the meek, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the pure in heart, Blessed are the peacemakers, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Being blessed is not about being strong or having the most power. Being blessed is much more about the motives of our heart and an awareness of what we lack. Jesus said the peacemakers would be blessed, as would those that were persecuted for righteousness sake. I might be wrong but when I think about these descriptions I wonder if people that do not know Jesus could be considered blessed. When I think about people that have crossed my path I confess that I have met some “unbelievers” that fit the above description. It is my prayer that the victims of the various political battles would experience God’s blessing.
Recently I read a devotional by Henri Nouwen asking us, “Who is Your Neighbor?” He talked about the story of the Good Samaritan. It wasn’t a Jewish man or woman that helped the brutalized Jew lying on the ground but a man from Samaria. He was a man with different beliefs that came from a different culture. In fact the Jews treated Samaritans with contempt and prejudice. Yet this Samaritan was able to look past that and saw a human in need. Nouwen goes on to point out that our neighbor is the person in need that we allow ourselves to serve and love.
When I think of the persecuted men, women, and children around our world I start to wonder which of them God is calling me to serve as my neighbor? Many of us tend to only love our “neighbors” that look like us and believe like us. What can we do for the civilians living in fear on the Gaza Strip or along the countryside of Eastern Ukraine? How can we bless the orphaned children in Somalia and the downtrodden in North Africa? Are you someone who is truly blessed? I pray that we would open our eyes to see the humanity behind the numbers of lives lost. I pray that we would realize that many of those people were poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry, thirsty, merciful, pure in heart, peaceful, and persecuted. I pray that our hearts would truly learn to see people different from us as our neighbors and someone to love.
*photo retrieved fromhttp://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2012/11/2012112091248733420.html