Last week a shared Blessed are you – Reflections from the Sermon on the Mount, and this week I wanted to follow up with a few of the possible implications. Like I said last week, much of this is still me thinking out loud and would love to hear thoughts and feedback. Understand we are on a journey, we are learning and growing. So here are a few thoughts from my journey.
After Jesus describes this new righteousness he tells his disciples that following him will not be easy…
Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Growing up in a Church of Christ, I was basically taught what Jesus meant, those who are a part of the Church of Christ are on the narrow road and those outside the Church of Christ are on the wide road. Which if you take it to its logical conclusion the road then becomes the Church of Christ rather than way of Jesus. Maybe you experienced the same type of exclusivity within your faith tradition. Jesus is confronting within the Beatitudes, a religious system, which was elevated above God. Now of course they would never claim the system was above God, but truth be told, their system was their god. The synagogue, their savior. The reverence awarded them their hope. Their power, their salvation.
It is this system that beats people into the ground, convincing them they are not adequate of being with God. The system conveys to people, until you to become “righteous” like the rest of us, God will not notice you. The system portrays an impossible mountain to be scaled to sit at the feet of God. It is into this religious system which Jesus bring this “good news.” Jesus is challenging the assumption that those who look righteous and those who look like they have it all together, are the ones who are right with God.
It is into this system which Jesus offers hope and speaks with grace. Blessed are those who are beat down by the religious system, who don’t measure up, who aren’t “good enough,” for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn because of their own sinfulness, for they will be comforted. Blessed are those who don’t use positional power to assert their will, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who are truly desire loving God and loving others, for they will be filled. Blessed are those who show mercy to others, who don’t hold peoples pasts over their heads for they will receive mercy. Blessed those who seek peace and unity among other believers rather than creating more divisions, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are trying desperately to live righteous lives, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It seems for the entirety of Jesus ministry, he stood in opposition to the religious organizations of his day. Why? Because their organization valued power over people. It valued prestige over humility. It valued outward appearance over the heart. So, why do the beatitudes still matter to us in 2012, just as they did the day Jesus spoke them on the mountainside to the crowd?
- Outward appearance is easy to fix, in fact we are quite good at it in our culture today. In fact our churches are filled with people who look amazing from a distance, but when you take the time to get close, you really start to see the cracks and imperfections. This good news is sent to those who embrace the brokenness.
- For church leaders, pastors and shepherd’s it is easy to fix the outside of people. It is an entirely different matter to help them fix the inside. For one it is messy, none of us are as shinny as we hope we appear. When, as a church we try to be, it creates a seemingly impossible mountain to climb to be right with God. As people come into our churches they see something or someone “they” could never be.
- Everyone, especially leaders, want to be great at what they do. We want to win; we want the biggest and the best. Ultimately, we want to appear to, at the very least, be adequate before God. We are so conditioned, by the world to live on a point system basis. We are constantly measuring our self. When we measure our self against other people, we are comparing what we know about our self, with what we don’t know about the other person.
- No one wants to be broken, and if we are broken we, at the very least, don’t want others to know we are broken. But the good news of blessing was to broken people. It was to the ones who were being persecuted for not playing the religious game. It was to the ones trying to live Godly and righteous lives in the midst of a system built on power and oppression.
The Kingdom of God is built on two simple commands, love God and love people. This is true righteousness. This is to be sought after. To follow Jesus is truly humbling because it means forsaking your kingdom to be a part of building his.
Matthew 5:20 NIV
20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.