Radical Change

Matthew 5:7-12
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As Jesus preaches His radical message, there is a recurring theme. When we choose to live without arrogance or pride we are exhibiting what it means to live in the Kingdom of God. First we think about what it means to be a merciful person.

Mercy embraces both forgiveness for the guilty and compassion for the suffering. While mercy is indeed situational, it is also a function of lifestyle. You know people you consider merciful and probably some who do not live mercifully at all. To live mercifully is tied to purity of heart for a merciful person knows that while others have sinned against them and require forgiveness, so too they themselves are sinners and in the same need. None of us is able to stand about others and declare ourselves more righteous or pure than another. To be pure in heart follows along the same line at merciful and righteous. It means that your heart is not divided between worship of the self and worship of God. Peacemaking is fairly obvious. A peacemaker thinks more of the need of others than they do themselves. When we war and struggle with one another it is because we are seeking to end up on top. While that is the way of the flesh and the way of the world, it is not a part of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus also promises that those who dwell in His kingdom will be persecuted for that choice. In the United States, that persecution grows daily as this culture pulls further and further away from God. In other countries around the world, God’s people are actually killed for their decision to follow Him. But, as Jesus points out, the persecution of God’s people is not new. No matter what happens to us here, we know that something far greater awaits us.

These Beatitudes have been a shining lesson since the day that Jesus spoke them of how God designed us to live together. Because of our sinful nature, that lifestyle has been lost. But He came to bring us back to God’s way. While He had to accomplish that for us through His own death, we can live that way today because of His victory. On this last day of 2013, maybe it is time to evaluate our own level of Beatitude living and allow the Spirit greater room in our lives for a change. These were radical thoughts when Jesus first taught them and they are still radical today.