Friday, January 05, 2007

The Beatitudes and More

I have to admit, when I think of Matthew 5, I think primarily of the beatitudes. I don't think about what follows them. Jesus started talking on the mountain in order to teach his people what it means to be a follower of Christ.

He starts by sharing with them the blessings of having certain character qualities.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Why? Theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven.
--- poor in spirit doesn't mean not possessing spirit. It means poor in an awareness that without God, our spirituality means nothing. As Christians we need to be aware of our need for God at all times.
--- when we have this awareness, of just how much we need God, then we know that God's home is our home.

Blessed are thse who mourn. Why? for they shall be comforted.
--- we mourn for the sins that we commit, that which is a separation of us from God. We mourn, to a certain extent, the things we've given up for God.
--- and in return, the spirit comforts us.

Blessed are the meek. Why? for they shall inherit the earth.
--- So just what does it mean to be meek? Is it being a person who just accepts whatever comes their way? I have to admit, I'm not quite sure. Jesus was a meek person, but he also was strong enough to drive money lenders out of the temple. So how is one meek? This site says a person is meek if they are people
Who are not easily provoked to anger; who patiently bear, and put up with injuries and affronts; carry themselves courteously, and affably to all; have the meanest thoughts of themselves, and the best of others; do not envy the gifts and graces of other men; are willing to be instructed and admonished, by the meanest of the saints; quietly submit to the will of God, in adverse dispensations of providence; and ascribe all they have, and are, to the grace of God. Meekness, or humility, is very valuable and commendable.
--- And that does make sense to me. A meek person doesn't put on a show, considers the needs of others, hmm... I wonder if a meek person can also be considered a submissive person. As a wife I am submissive (mostly) to my hubbie, but that doesn't mean that what I think, feel, desire, etc doesn't matter. It means that I consider his needs (for the most part) before I consider my own. So a meek person I would think, would consider the needs of Christ and others, before their own needs.

--- And by doing so ... they shall inherit the earth. Huh??? who wants this old earth all beat up and half-way broken??? But when Jesus comes again, he will be making for us a new heaven and a new earth. This earth will shed it's beaten, broken body for a new one. Won't that be cool?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Why? for they shall be satisfied.
--- self explanatory isn't it? The more we seek after God and his ways, the more we shall be satisfied. I know that the more I know God, the more I want to know God and the more dissatisfied I am with myself and how I live my life as a Christian. This verse gives me hope that someday, I will be satisfied. That someday I will truly have my heart's desire.

Blessed are the merciful. Why? for they shall receive mercy.
--- This will be good. Have you ever seen people who truly extend mercy to others? How often that mercy is not extended back to them? God's world...that mercy is given freely.

Blessed are the pure in heart. Why? for they shall see God.
--- so just who are these pure in heart? This source says this:
How foolish, therefore, are those who seek God with these outward eyes, since He is seen with the heart! as it is written elsewhere, “And in singleness of heart seek Him.” For that is a pure heart which is a single heart: and just as this light cannot be seen, except with pure eyes; so neither is God seen, unless that is pure by which He can be seen.
--- we seek God with our hearts, not with our eyes just looking around. Our hearts are what go after God. And when we let them do that, we find what we are looking for.

Blessed are the peacemakers. Why? for they shall be called sons of God.
--- I must admit, I do dispair of myself as a peacemaker. I like to keep peace, I just don't see myself in that role very well. I'm too apt to take sides! But this is something that God calls me to do. I am to make peace. That means I'm not out there making fights, provoking battles, or any such stuff. I'm out there to say, hey, there's a better way. It's God's way. Know him. See him. Be one with us (as in unity, as in family, not in some weird cultish type way). If I truly do this, then I will be called a child of God! Wow... :)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake? Why? for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
--- The persecuted get heaven. Plain and simple.
--- not those just persecuted because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or belong to the wrong ethnic group or have the wrong color of skin, or speak funny or whatever. This passage is specific. Those who are persecuted for RIGHTEOUSNESS' sake. These are the ones for the kingdom of heaven.
--- So in essence, if we are believers, and we are persecuted for such reason, we don't have to be afraid, we know what is waiting for us. And it ain't a bad place neither!
--- the following verse emphasizes this, when others revile, persecute, utter all kinds of evil against you because you believe in Jesus you are to "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you".

So how are we as Christians to also live?
1. as salt. As good salt, that is there to do a job. Not as tasteless, worthless salt.
2. as light. We are not to hide who we are. We are a beacon in the darkness around us, let your light (the light of Christ) shine forth! Let people see that light, let them give glory to God!
3. As people who know the law is not abolished. That we know we still need to abide by the law, but we are not under the curse of the law. We follow the law because it shows us how to live.
4. as a people who have control of our tempers. We need to not only watch our actions, but our words and thoughts as well.
5. as a people who are willing to admit our faults in our relationships with others and are forthright in dealing with them before we make our offerings to God.
6. as a people not willing to commit adultery....not just the act itself, but the thinking of the same. We must do whatever we can to avoid falling into this sinful way of living. As God's word says "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell."
7. As a people who know that divorce is NOT what God wants. God allowed divorce because it is what people wanted, but God does not want his people to divorce. If a person does divorce (except for sexual immorality) he is committing adultery. (see pt.6)
8. we are to be a people who keep our word, simply because we made a promise. Nothing more needs to be added to a promise. Our word should be sufficient.
9. as a people who don't want to get evil. Just let it be. God knows what happened, and he'll take care of it all. Go the extra mile.
10. as a people who genuinely love all those around us. Not just our friends, family, relations etc. but truly love those around us. our enemies are all those who don't know that Jesus is Lord. God takes care of everyone just like he takes care of us, so who are we to say who should be loved and who shouldn't? Just love your neighbours, even the ones you don't like.

Our Goal is Simple, though getting there perhaps not quite so. :)
48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Ah, I am SO far from this. I don't think I'll ever achieve it. But just because I think it seems impossible, is no reason for me to not to make it my aim. Step by step, and day by day, just trusting God and following the best I can is the only way to do it.

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