“For the kingdom of heaven is theirs” Matthew 5:10
In Matthew 5 we reach the Sermon on the Mount. The mission statement of Jesus’ teachings. This is where he lays down what it is He stands for. This is where He reveals the principles of the Kingdom, the principles we are called to live by if we want to be citizens of the Kingdom.
It doesn’t make easy reading for those of us enjoying our comfortable, privileged first world lives. Everything is about to get turned upside down.
Jesus tells us that God “blesses those who realize their need for him” (v3). Do we really realize our need for God? So often we think we can do it on our own. We have food, we have money, we have health, we have a house and a job. Everything is going well. We are getting by in our own strength. But we are just fooling ourselves. Without God we have nothing. It is He who gives us our breath, who keeps our hearts beating. Without Jesus we are mere mortals who will soon be gone. We desperately need the salvation only He provides. We can’t do this by ourselves. We need to realize our need for God. We don’t just need him in times of crisis, in the hospital emergency room. We need Him each and every day, and we need to stop fooling ourselves that we can get by without Him. Cry out desperately to God. Kingdom citizens are marked by an awareness of their need for God and their acknowledgment that without Him we are nothing.
In this passage Jesus lists several characteristics that Kingdom citizens are known for. Not characteristics they should be known for. Not characteristics that would make nice extra, but essential characteristics that will be there if we truly have had a life changing, soul transforming encounter with the King of all Kings.
We will be “gentle and lowly” (v5), “hungry and thirsty for justice” (v6), “merciful” (v7), our “hearts are pure” (v8) and we “work for peace” (v9). Those are the principles of the Kingdom. Gentleness. Justice. Mercy. Purity. Peace. Pretty opposite to the values the world promotes. Society says to look out for yourself, but Jesus says to pursue justice. Society says walk over those who get in your way, but Jesus teaches us to be gentle. Society says if someone wrongs you to retaliate and make them pay, but Jesus values mercy over revenge. If we are truly living by the principles Jesus teaches us are the principles of the Kingdom then we will end up making a lot of decisions that seem crazy to the world around us as we reject its values and instead live by the Kingdom principles.
And what is the result when we follow these Kingdom principles? Jesus promises three things. The first two are good – “God blesses those [who live by these principles]” and “the Kingdom of heaven is theirs” (v10). But there is a third result. We will be “mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are [Jesus’] followers.” (v11). The world won’t understand. They won’t be accepting. They will try to get us to conform to their idea of normal. And when we don’t they will laugh. They will mock. They will make are things hard for us. They will overlook us. They won’t give us the promotion. They will try to take advantage of us. They will try to knock us down. But Jesus tells us to “be happy about it!” (v12). Our reward is coming in heaven. We are not living for earthly rewards that will fade. We have an eternal reward in the kingdom that will never pass away. What we do now may not make sense to those around us, but that is because they don’t have a Kingdom perspective. Their outlook on life is focused on the here and now, but we are living in light of eternity, citizens of the Kingdom, following the principles Jesus taught us.
- Jesus promises persecution when we follow Him – are you experiencing that? If not, could it be because you aren’t fully living the way He calls us to?
- What decisions have you had to make that don’t make sense with an earthly outlook but do with a Kingdom perspective?
- Which of these Kingdom characteristics can you see in your life? Which do you need to work at?
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17