Dear GCI Family and Friends,
If you are like me, you get saturated with media that is filled with stories promoting prideful self-centeredness, willful hate, destructive violence, and all forms of godlessness. Australasia Superintendent, Daphne Sidney introduced me to the term “learned helplessness.” It is a wearing down over time that leads to hopelessness and despair. You and I are prone to it also.
One of the most beautiful parts of the Sermon on the Mount is a section we call the Beatitudes. It paints a picture of hope and restoration. But it’s also a passage that can be wrongly interpreted. It is vital to know how to read this with Christ’s intended meaning. We need “ears to hear.”
Allow me to begin with a couple of wrong postures.
Us and Them
“Us” means we see ourselves as the disciples gathered on the hillside, eager learners at the feet of Jesus. “Them” are the ones who revile and persecute us; the ones who aren’t pure, who break the peace, the unmerciful. We have embraced a worldview of good guys and bad guys and inserted ourselves into the good guy category. (Imagine a loud buzzer sound to indicate, “wrong answer!”)
The real answer here is “us and him.” We may be sitting on the hillside, but which one of “us” is humble, merciful, pure, and seeking the good for all? That one would be Jesus, and him alone. “Us,” all of humanity, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
It is only Jesus who has fulfilled the beatitudes, and get this, you and I are “blessed” because he has.Read More
Do and be blessed
The beatitudes can be interpreted as when we implement specified godly characteristics in our lives, a blessing is guaranteed to follow. This sounds transactional. It also sounds like our human works can gain us favor and blessing from God. (Another loud buzzer.)
You are blessed because of the vicarious nature of Jesus and the present empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It’s not our righteousness, but his (Philippians 3:9).
You cannot simply determine “to do” these actions. In Romans 7, the apostle Paul admitted to this feeble exercise of knowing good and attempting to do good and then falling flat on his face. Who can deliver? Only Jesus.
The correct answer here is that we are blessed because of Jesus.
Dr. Gary Deddo has been helpful in explaining the indicatives and the imperatives laced into the New Testament. The indicative in the Sermon on the Mount is the personal saving grace of Jesus on behalf of humanity. It is because of Jesus that the believer can take on these Christ-like characteristics of humility, purity, and peace-making. These are the imperatives that come alive in the believer who is actively following Jesus.
The result of this relationship is deliverance from “learned helplessness.” In fact, it is “imparted hope.” Hope for a better human condition. Hope for a gathering of all people into a peaceful, love-filled kingdom. The result of this relationship is being in God’s favor with contentment and joy that rises above the negative stories in the media.
In Jesus, you and I are hope-filled and blessed to be a blessing to the world around us.
Blessed in Jesus,
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