A Countercultural Life
Living God, on this day, I remember that You are everywhere. However, I am here and now and need Your grace.
Consider: "God gives his blessedness to those who claim no merit for themselves but, knowing their own heart's need, are content to rest wholly on the mercy of God" (A. M. Hunter, 1906-1991). God gifts us with a character transplant!
Familiar words! How do you picture the scene? We are told that Jesus got away from the crowds and was teaching his disciples. These are not necessarily just the twelve, since Jesus may not have picked them yet, but they are people who were committed to following him. How many, we don't know. Someone has suggested that the occasion was rather like a weekend retreat. It's possible that the words of the whole sermon that we have in Matthew's Gospel are a summary of what Jesus said.
Verses 3-11 are in a form known as macarisms (the Greek word for "blessings"), expressions of praise. This form occurs frequently in Psalms and Proverbs, but in our Bible only, Jesus strung them together like this. They are short and memorable, and lend themselves to much reflection.
They have to be taken together, as a composite portrait of the Christian disciple. The portrait that emerges is not what the world around us admires or considers successful. To live by Jesus' values is to set one's whole way of life on a different course from the rest of the world. Thank God for people you know, both personally and in history, who encourage you by their example and whose lives demonstrate the power of what the world calls weakness. Above all, reflect on how Jesus himself embodied everything he taught here. Let us as Christians seek the power of the Spirit to live this countercultural lifestyle.
Apply: Here, Jesus gives us eight dimensions of a godly character. Read the list again, thoughtfully and prayerfully. Ask God to make you more like Jesus.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for Your example, for Your power in my life enabling me to live as Your disciple, and for the encouragement in these verses.
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