What does it mean to walk in the way of Jesus when you’ve been raised in the values of the Empire? This is a tension every person living the Spirit-filled life experiences; but it can easily go undetected. The danger for many Christians isn’t sudden wickedness–it’s a subtle drift toward allowing our vision of “normal” life to be built around priorities God doesn’t share.
Once ought of Egypt, the people of God struggle with the “ghosts of Pharaoh,” the remnants of their past life that weigh them down. True freedom comes in the form of obedience.
When hearing about the kingdom, we want to make it happen but first, we must enter it ourselves. We cannot bring it unless we’re in it, unless it’s in us. But how does one enter it? What does citizenship mean? What is assumed? What is expected? This message will remind us that “our citizenship is in heaven,” and call us to practice that allegiance here, on earth.
Every religion has to deal with suffering. Some try to avoid it, to overcome it, or to explain it away. But the mark of a practicing community is that it comes alongside those who carry crosses, with empathy and patience. These people know that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance (produces) character and hope,” (Rom 5:3-4, NET).
As our nation becomes more polarized politically, economically and socially we hear the call for justice, for equality and tolerance. Perhaps what is needed is a community devoted to making room for those who are invisible, those on the margins. This community would open itself to the invisible, without passing judgment, for ultimately it is the community, and not just our resources, that help us the most.
The rise of the individual over the community, along with an emphasis on freedom without commitment has led to an impermanent society in which promises are only good intentions. Against this tide of self-indulgence, the people of God are called to make promises and to keep them, for “our freedom doesn’t grow in the abstract; it grows only as we commit ourselves with and to others.”
In our emphasis on diversity, have we forgotten unity? In fighting for justice, have we forgotten what spirit we are of? The trouble is that everyone feels like a minority. But the children of God make peace. We turn the cheek, release our debtors, love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We not only forgive, we absorb the sins that others commit against us.
The Beatitudes are a profile of people who are humble, vulnerable, modest, hungry, simple, compassionate, peaceful and persecuted. They are unlike anything the world has seen, yet they are the happiest and the most whole. And when they come together, in covenant with one another, they form a new society, becoming a social alternative for the world.
cheating culture exists when “everyone does what is right in his own eyes.” In our day, there is a sense that everyone is cheating – and justifying it – so that cheating in return is thought a matter of survival. Before the mayhem destroys us, we will need a community who live simple, transparent lives, who risk being taken advantage of because their trust is in God.
Our current trajectory of unrestrained pleasure, of freedom without responsibility will have tragic consequences for which we, as a culture, are unprepared. These consequences will threaten even our most stable institutions until the society begins to look for an alternative. In that day, a Biblical view of morality, of responsibility and self-control will be an attractive, if unpopular option for some.