Being Beatitudinal

By Pastor Wayne Jenkins

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount contains some challenging teachings for His followers then and now.

I know a pastor who preached the Sermon on the Mount verbatim one Sunday morning but didn’t tell the congregation that they were hearing the unadulterated words of Jesus straight from the pages of the New Testament. On the way out the church door after the service, several attendees complained about the frankness and abrasiveness of the sermon they had just heard.

Yup, when not candy coated, the example and words of Jesus can be offensive, especially if we have adopted our own brand of Christianity that has drifted from or even reinterpreted discipleship as Jesus intended when Jesus He invited fishermen and tax collectors to “Follow me.” Alarmingly, it is possible for believers over time to build our own constructs of faith and practice that can even contradict the model of Christ.

In what has become known as The Beatitudes, Jesus’ commands live up to the description of the word of God provided in Hebrews 4:12: The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
If the word of God is sharper than a sword and if it does divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and if it does judge thoughts and attitudes, it can unquestionably be painful and offensive. The Word of God is not always comforting. It is sometimes rightly convicting.

Parts of Matthew 5:1-12 are confounding, even startling if received honestly—

Jesus said…

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The title “beatitude” means “blessed are…” In the Beatitudes, Jesus lays out his expectations for His disciples and thus for the church. To be blessed is to be sanctified, set aside through sacrifice, anointed by the Blood of Christ. Blessedness has more to do more with what we are and whose we are than what we get in return. Who we are and whose we are determines what we do and how we treat others. Being Beatitudinal, living the Beatitudes, declares that we belong to Christ. If we are sanctified and set apart to reflect Him, we are peacemakers, we are merciful, and our motives are pure.

When we are not Beatitudinal, we stray into our own devices and rationales. A confession published by Jim Palmer, a former pastor at Willow Creek Church in Chicago and church-planter in Brentwood, Tennessee, demonstrates how far afield we can go if we depart from a Beatitudinal faith and lifestyle.

Looking back on his life as pastor and church leader, Palmer identified actions and methods that now grieve him. These are sobering extremes that can cause alarm. However, some of these are surreptitious temptations that can easily trick us.

Palmer published “22 Mistakes I Made as a Senior Pastor.” Consider the list below. Some stung me. Others, not so much.

Ponder how we might learn from Palmer’s regrets? Which of these don’t seem to apply to FBCA? Which do?  Why? Why not?

•Putting church over community
•Putting orthodoxy over love.
•Putting certainty over wonder.
•Putting teaching over conversation.
•Putting polished over real.
•Putting explanations over empathy.
•Putting answers over questions.
•Putting membership over friendship.
•Putting prayer over action.
•Putting services over self-care.
•Putting style over substance.
•Putting appearance over authenticity.
•Putting functionality over beauty.
•Putting religion over spirituality.
•Putting numbers over faces.
•Putting holiness over humanity.
•Putting accountability over acceptance.
•Putting heaven over earth.
•Putting meetings over relationships.
•Putting reputation over risk.
•Putting superiority over humility.
•Putting charisma over compassion.
•Putting the afterlife over the herelife.
•Putting doctrine over reason.
•Putting hierarchy over equality.

Let’s always seek to be Beatitudinal as individual disciples and as a congregation.

Man, some of these confessions cause me to yell “Amen”. Some make me squirm. And to some, I groan, “Ouch”. Let’s hold each other accountable. Let’s evaluate our motives by the Spirit of Christ to always prioritize what is most valued by Jesus and truest to His Gospel.

 In other words, Let’s be Beatitudinal!

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