The behavior and character upon which Christ pronounced His sincere blessings, i.e. The Beatitudes, in Matthew 5, are exceedingly remarkable. They are these:
1. Poor in spirit,
2. Sorrow and mourning,
3. Humility or meekness,
4. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness,
6. Pureness of heart,
7. Peacemaking, and
8. Persecution for righteousness sake.
Now, let the Christian try whether he can suggest eight qualities that stand in a more obvious contrast with anger, war, vengeance, hate, self-protection, law enforcement, or military action than those mentioned above. It is clear that Christ was here differentiating His followers from the world.
Christ has shown the qualities and characteristics of the person who would follow Him, and He lived that life as our example. Somehow all of these eight things are in striking contrast to the Christian who demands his rights to “peace” through police, armies, guns, and self-defense, instead of trust in the Prince of Peace.
Christians have misunderstood Christ and what it means to be a follower of the meek and lowly Savior. I have yet to meet anyone who can defend a contrary position without repeatedly going back to the Old Testament. The abundance of New Testament Scriptures declaring a new and different kind of life for believers, living under a new Kingdom code of conduct are plain and simple, but also ignored in favor of the flesh. There isn’t one in a hundred Christians who will even investigate the matter; the flesh will trump the truth almost always, and not even miss a heartbeat or feel his conscience stricken.
There are so many lies floating around today, and with patriotism at a fever pitch, none will give up his supposed right to protection of life and limb; yet Jesus says follow me, and follows up these characteristics with six commands that override the Old Testament:
1. Do not be angry,
2. Do not lust in your heart,
3. Do not divorce,
4. Do not swear,
5. Do not resist an evil person, and
6. Love your enemies
Where in all of this are we given permission to provide for our own personal safety? the Christian must deny Christ to carry a weapon, to join a police force, or to be a soldier. A Christian who does these things can be said to follow Christ in word, but not in deed. No permission is given!
Christianity is represented as something that is difficult, that takes all of our effort and concentration, and that only a few will succeed amongst the many who try. The Bible says that we are to “Strive to enter in,” and that “Many will seek to enter in, but will not be able.” The reason for so many failures will be to the weakness of the flesh to grasp the utter dissimilarity between the world’s ways and the ways of God’s Kingdom. Kingdom life is totally contrary to everything we have seen with our eyes, felt in our bones, reasoned with our brain, or been taught by the Church. We pray with our mouth, “On earth as it is in Heaven,” then live a life that is contrary to the words we speak and the things we say we believe. We swear oaths to kill if commanded; we sit in judgment of our brothers, and condemn, when called to jury duty; we pledge allegiance to a flag and a kingdom other than God’s kingdom, after being told that we cannot serve two kings; we enter into the politics of this world as if we were not a citizen of another country and attempt to do for that government what God alone can do. When our heart is in the world and the doings of that world, then we can surely expect to fail at following the Lord; He, Himself said it cannot be done, yet many seek to do it, but they do not strive to enter in.
And, all of this is not even to mention “shedding all the (other) weights that so easily beset us.” The Church today is rightly called a seeker Church; too bad it is not called a striving Church. The striving Church is that Church of which Christ was happy, and blessed with those wonderful words in Matthew.
In sincerest honesty, where is that Church?