If you’re a fan of the Irish rock band U2, you may have listened to two songs on the group’s new album, “Songs of Experience,” that both feature popular rapper Kendrick Lamar. I wouldn’t normally quote Lamar’s lyrics because of the “parental advisory” warning on the front of his albums, but it’s worth hearing his guest verses that link the ending of one U2 song to the beginning of the next:
“Blessed are the arrogant, for theirs is the kingdom of their own company. Blessed are the superstars, for the magnificence in their light, we understand better our own insignificance. Blessed are the filthy rich, for you can only truly own what you give away like your pain. Blessed are the bullies, for one day they will have to stand up to themselves. Blessed are the liars, for the truth can be awkward.”
If these lyrics intrigue you, you may want to check out these much older verses: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:3–12).
This issue was not inspired by U2 (even though I seemingly was one of the few people who appreciated that their previous album unexpectedly appeared for free in iTunes libraries). Before the rockers’ new album dropped, the Light + Life team already had decided to base most of our 2018 issues on the latter set of verses — known as the Beatitudes. Their author, Jesus Christ, is the light who brings us life and the source of this magazine’s inspiration for 150 consecutive years.
Pastor Roberta Mosier-Peterson didn’t know we would be running a series on the Beatitudes when she initially submitted the article in this month’s Feature section. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent article to kick off a “blessed” series. As Mosier-Peterson asks, “Are we blessing others, and are we becoming people of blessing?”
This issue highlights “the poor in spirit.” I admit I’ve always been a bit unclear on who falls into that category. Thankfully, Bishop David Roller and Pastor Jim Miller provide their expert perspectives on what the “poor in spirit” means and doesn’t mean. Pastor Erik Anderson interviews a man who exemplifies what it means to be poor in spirit.
In this issue, we’re also publishing an excerpt from the new book by missionary Phyllis Sortor, whose kidnapping three years ago this month made international news. Thankfully, that kidnapping didn’t stop Sortor from being a blessing to the people of Nigeria.
Wouldn’t you like to be a blessing too?
Jeff Finley serves as the executive editor of Light + Life, which he joined in 2011 after previously working as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media.
- Feature: From Pariah to President
- Bishops: Want to Be Rich?
- Action: Lessons from a “Poor in Spirit” Man
- Discipleship: Who Are the Poor in Spirit?
- Discipleship: Thank God for Your Blessings
- Discipleship: Ashes, Roses and a Cellophane Cacophony
- News: Conference to Feature Multiplication Experts
- News: Justice Ministry Pilgrimage Course Offered in May
- World: The Day of My Kidnapping