What do you want for your life, or for your children’s lives? Few people would disagree with a desire for health and happiness, with enough to eat and a secure home to live in. These are fundamentals we all aspire to.
Armed with these aspirations, we think of those who have enough to eat, and plenty to laugh about as people who are blessed. And we think of those who fall short of that standard as people who have either failed in life, or been failed by life.
In religious cultures God gets woven into these assumptions. Those whose needs are amply provided for have been blessed by God. Those who fall short of society’s basic standard are assumed to have incurred God’s displeasure.
Jesus turned that thinking on its head. “Blessed are you who are poor, or hungry, or grieving, or excluded; the Kingdom of God is yours.” Then comes the uncomfortable bit: “But woe to you who are rich, or well fed, or happy, or popular, for you have already received your consolation.” (Luke 6:20-26)
Jesus sees this world very differently from us. God is primarily at work among the very people who are routinely dismissed by polite society. If you want to see God at work, look among those who are poor, hungry, sad and excluded; they are the soil where the seeds of God’s Kingdom flourish.