Monday, April 20, 2015

Jesus Christ the Shocking Revolutionary

Jesus Christ's first teachings in the bible come in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). The initial section of this sermon is the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12). I've been pondering these eleven verses quite a bit lately. I'm stunned by what shocking and revolutionary teachings these were and still are.

In one sense these aren't revolutionary; Jesus was explaining the full meaning of the Old Testament law. However, no one thought of the law this way. Therefore, in comparison to how people were living and thought of the O.T. law, Jesus' sayings were extremely revolutionary. He was commanding his followers to live in ways that flew in the face of how the world lives. Christ expected his people to be humble, to mourn, to show mercy, to be peacemakers, to accept persecution, etc. These are not the ways of the world.

Sadly, these are not generally the ways of the church either, then or now. We generally fail to live up to what Jesus demands. This is not surprising considering that we are imperfect beings. However, when it comes to the Beatitudes, we don't even come close. It's interesting that Jesus holds us to such a high standard. It is clear that our Lord had and has plans for his body to live in a starkly different way from that of the world.

When we take time to think through these verses, what we see should shock us. We see wonderful blessings promised as part of salvation in Christ. We deserve none of these. We also see descriptors of Christ's followers that seem so different from almost anything we see on a daily basis. For example, how many of us truly seek meekness? Instead, we generally struggle for what we believe is ours. What about peacemakers? Does this describe us? Usually we want others to be at peace, but not if it costs us. Or what about accepting suffering for Christ and doing so willingly? We are generally clueless in this regard.

On the one hand I'm glad Jesus has a high standard. He would not be such an impressive God if he let us live like the lost around us. On the other hand, his design for his people challenges us to live in a way that we are probably not. He expects our attitudes and behavior to shock the world because of how revolutionary they are. If the world often times does not understand us, that is probably a good thing. Conversely, if we fit right in we likely have a big problem.

We ought to be shocked by Christ's teachings. We should also ask ourselves whether or not we are even attempting to live up to them.

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