Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Living In Light of the Kingdom - Part Two
The importance of character can be seen by the fact that it comes first in the sermon. Character is important because the kingdom is about salvation or deliverance from sin that must inevitably change and influence character. In the sermon, Jesus emphasizes character by giving us eight beatitudes and two metaphors. Jesus pronounces a blessing on the poor in spirit, on those who mourn, on the meek, on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, on the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted.
According to Jesus, people who are characterized in these ways are “blessed” in that they know the approval of God and His grace is evident in their lives. The beatitudes do not describe natural personality traits, but rather evidence that the kingdom of God has come in life-changing power. As a result, those who are citizens of the kingdom are light and salt in the world. Both metaphors presuppose that the world is not all that it should be—it is a dark and flavourless place that needs the moral and spiritual “light” and “salt” that is provided by Jesus’ disciples.
Once again we should note that it is character and not education that Jesus emphasizes at the beginning of His kingdom sermon. It is character, not having the right friends and connections. It is character, not having the right study Bible, or a fancy home, or car, or boat, or vacation property, or six-pack abs, or whatever, that matters. In the kingdom, character matters—character comes first—character that is developed over a lifetime as we walk with Jesus through this world.