“Famous for being famous”
Matthew 5: 1-12
In today’s landscape of reality T.V. there are some very wealthy and well-known people and families that seem to be famous for being famous and are viewed by many as living the dream. And maybe they are or are not living but that’s their business and not for us to guess. Yet when reading of their “followers”, many see these peoples fame as something to aspire to that will bring happiness and make them something in the world.
Fame, irrespective even if only being famous for being famous equates to a blessed life and happiness.
An equation that I wonder what the likes of those of unending fame would comment.
Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig Von Beethoven, Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and some of the funniest and finest comedians through the years. Famous names not just etched in a few years or a decade, but famous names in the journals of history that our children’s children will still be reading about. Unimaginable fame, yet fame that did not quell for them what Winston Churchill called “The black dog”.
“The black dog”, a metaphor for depression: an-ever companion lurking in the shadows just out of sight, growling, vaguely menacing, always on the alert, sinister and unpredictable and capable of overwhelming you at any moment.
Famous yes, happy-maybe not so.
Martin Luther was noted to suffer melancholy, the word for depression of that time and “His name sake so to speak”, the great civil rights activist Martin Luther King Junior, so named because his father, A Baptist priest after travelling Germany changed his name by deed poll from Michael to Martin is said by most of his auto biographers as an “intensely guilt-ridden” and “depressed man.”
When asked if his fame, money and possessions had brought him happiness, the very rich and powerful Rene Rivkin several years before his suicide answered, “no, just a better level of misery”.
Many of these people where blessed with things the world applauds, money, fame, courage, power and great minds. Yet it seems the equation of those things equalling a blessed and happy life as the world sees it may not have eventuated to the extent that some would imagine.
Is it a sin to be blessed with a talent that exceeds others and brings the fruits of worldly life-absolutely not? Just as it is most certainly not a sin to want to be happy. In fact I would think it more the opposite that if a person purposely set out to be unhappy I’d reckon Jesus might be a little miffed.
The problem is not happiness, but what we equate happiness to be and if it’s only based on our circumstances and environment, or on fun and laughter, doing our own thing while being free from suffering, sorrow and hardship then happiness will most certainly be a never ending quest and this is Jesus point as He makes His famous sermon on the mount called “The beatitudes”. His sermon to help those, help us to not find fleeting happiness, but real true happiness that brings peace and as normal, Jesus ways of truth are, seem to come from “back to front land”.
Blessed are the poor in spirit are those
that are aware of how much their sinfulness is out of control; those desiring a greater faith and struggling cope with upsets in life.
Blessed are those who mourn.
Those living with loss those upset by the injustices in our world and grieve for the starving, the homeless, refugees and those suffering wars and those who know of and are distressed over their own stupidity and sinfulness.
Blessed are the humble
Those helping others at cost to themselves. Gentle with others and refusing to do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others; People who don’t push themselves forward because they are satisfied helping others.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Those with a deep sense of what is right; they are passionate about justice for the underdog and won’t rest until something is done while also struggling in their own lives because of their want to live more as God intended.
Blessed are the persecuted.
Persecution because you are a peacemaker, or because you have shown mercy and compassion on someone whom everyone else thinks doesn’t deserve it, or being pure in heart you know what is the right thing to do and stick to it even though no one else sees it that way and they retaliate.
The blessings of the beatitudes present to us a very different and somewhat challenging form of happiness to what the world and our head may suggest will bring happiness because he cuts out “the stuff” that promises yet never fulfils and gets to the core that at the end of the day, the only thing that will not perish or need to be updated is to know God and be accepted into his kingdom and ironically, just as those I listed earlier with their “cross to bear” of depression and doubts of self- worth help lead them to great things, so to in our moments where we are laid bare in the knowledge of our own sins and shortcomings and see that only in Christ can we be given rest from the “monkey on our back.”
Abraham Lincoln, a man very much fuelled to do the right thing for people because of knowing of his own pain in, 1812 made a speech proposing to advance his quest to end slavery and re-unite a country half free and half not and quoted Mark 3:25 in stating that a “house divided against itself cannot stand”.
We in our lives in Christ are totally free and yet we are still continually drawn to find other ways we need not. And if blessed by God with many things, be it employer of people or being employed, be it be a gift of certain ability or indeed the gift of insight through suffering, we like Abraham Lincoln can use our “gifts” as a blessing to serve our country, communities, families and neighbours and the Lord Himself.
All of us here are blessed with something that’s unique to us and it may or may not be something that brings overly fond feelings because any gift we have can subjective to the weather, the economy, youthful or aged bodies or a never ending array of “hits and misses” that we encounter over our journey.
In worldly terms a blessing can easily become a curse and vice versa and we ride those ways as best we can and that’s part of life. A part of life though that can only fulfil, only bring true happiness and true peace under the knowledge of our life in Christ.
Because outside of Christ, though we may be strong in mind and body we have to see we are weak and feeble. Yet though weak and feeble, He has come to us and gives us strength and though rich and gifted or of humble means and ways He has come that we who accept Him as He is, are accepted as we are. And that as we are, struggling in and with our own sin and indeed laid bare in our own shortfalls of living a life in Christ, we are given peace, hope and happiness when we accept Him as He is, the messiah, the Son of God who came into this world not to condemn but to save.
Jesus Christ the Saviour who gave His life for you that you need not fear or worry of things passing, for in accepting His underserved grace you know the truth of what awaits you at the end of your journey, and that while on the journey we may be given mountains to climb and tears to shed, we go forward not in fleeting happiness but rejoicing in all things and in all ways because of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who today, as He will most certainly on our last day says welcome home my dear brother, welcome home my dear sister and that we can still accept and acquire the perishable, our happiness thought often cloaked in hardship is in Christ.
That’s the truth of God in scripted in stone, a promise to us Christ will not break, and our joy and happiness that no other can take. Amen.