In the world but not of the world
October 15, 2021, 8:55 AM

“When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the humble, 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 sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:1-12‬ 

The words of Christ found in The Sermon on the Mount were a revolutionary rallying cry that confronted the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day. Jesus’ message set the tone for all that would come afterward. He came to not only fulfill the law, forgive our sins, and restore our relationship but to turn our world upside down.

With each word He spoke, Jesus contrasted the way of God with that of the world. He challenged the status quo of the religious establishment. Obedience of the heart meant more than mindless legalism. The last would be first. Love would replace hate and indifference. Forgiveness would win over judgment and vengeance.

Jesus didn’t hold back or sugarcoat His message. Neither did He lower the bar of His expectations in hopes of watching His numbers grow. In some regards, Jesus was giving people every reason not to follow Him. Jesus knew the road that lay before Him and what it would ultimately cost those who committed to leaving life as they knew it behind. They were committing to a cause much more significant than themselves, which meant an end to their comfort, convenience, safety, and security.

Since He was ushering in a new kingdom, it makes sense that Jesus sought out people who didn’t fit the typical mold. Rather than fight for position, authority, and recognition, Jesus was looking for individuals willing to lay their agenda down. He didn’t desire people who were artificial but rather authentic. Jesus wasn’t drawn to power-hungry individuals but to those who made much of other people and brought value to their lives.

Every single trait listed in the Beatitudes conflicted with the worldly values of the times. But, here’s the thing: very little has changed over the years. The same agenda pushed by culture in the days of Jesus is present today. Fight for the spotlight, indulge until you are satisfied, never show weakness, and always remember to look out for your interests. Every decision we face should be funneled through the lens of our benefit. Forgiveness made one weak while the world applauded pride, self-promotion, and personal independence.

So, what supposedly awaits us if we follow this plan? Adoration, fame, recognition, security, contentment, satisfaction, and relief reside on the other side. Yet, for some reason, we never seem to arrive at this destination. When those feelings arise and quickly dissipate (which they always do), we continue to push harder in hopes that the outcome will be different this time. We keep up this cat and mouse game until we’re exhausted, burnt out, tired or dissatisfied.

Jesus arrives on the scene and lets us know we are looking for life in all the wrong places. Are you looking for a life of fulfillment? Thirst for righteousness. Do you want to experience true joy? Love, forgive, and fight for justice when others hate. Do you desire true significance? Serve others and work toward reconciliation. Are you yearning for peace? Keep your heart pure.  Life is found when you decide to pick up your cross daily.

In essence, Jesus is saying the only way to find your purpose and passion indeed is through the act of dying to yourself. By sacrificially giving yourself away, you are receiving much more in return. Which trait found in the passage above is the most challenging for you to display? Why is this the case?

Prayer: Father God, I confess I wrestle with the act of self-denial. Rather than being counter-cultural, I look like everyone else who fights for their own agenda and demands their needs are met first and foremost. Lord today help me lay down my worldly wants and desires, and seek love, forgive, and fight for justice when others hate. Give me the desire to serve others and work towards reconciliation. I know that in return I will your gain heart pure. Ready my to pick up my cross and carry it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


10-15-2021 at 4:02 PM
Thanks, reminders are always needed.
10-15-2021 at 9:31 AM
Edith McElreath
Thank you.
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