In a radical message preached on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 5,6,7), Jesus gives us the best definition of what is the Kingdom of God. This sermon begins with eight blessings that are invoked on people if they demonstrate particular attitudes. We often call these verses “The Beatitudes” but in calling them by this name, we can easily lose the focus that these eight statements were in fact the eight core values of the Kingdom of God and the main message of Jesus. Let’s look on these values with fresh eyes.
1. KINGDOM PEOPLE ARE GOD DEPENDANT. (See last issue) “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 5:3)
2. KINGDOM PEOPLE GRIEVE OVER UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5:4)
Jesus isn’t advocating a state of blessedness on those who moan, winge and complain over their lot in life nor was it just meant to be a nice verse to read at funerals. The word Jesus used for mourn means to be distressed over the loss of something precious and valuable. This mourning is related to the grief we feel over the loss of what we hold as precious and valuable. For kingdom people who seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, this relates to everything of a Godly value. Kingdom people mourn over injustice, lawlessness, unrighteousness and ungodliness.
Kingdom people don’t live emotionally detached lives. They live emotionally attached lives that will respond with emotion and grief over news about tragedy, loss or injustice. They live so emotionally connected that their whole being responds to a crisis. Something emotional happens to kingdom people when they hear that a tsunami has struck a neighbouring country or when they are told that today 25,000 children died of poverty or when they hear there are still 25 million slaves in the world, or that in 2009 there are still 1 billion people who cannot read or write. (www.globalissues.org) Kingdom people can’t just listen to these facts and continue eating their weetbix. They begin to mourn and to grieve and cry out to God to see what they can do to help. They cannot idly sit and watch the world disintegrating without wanting to do something about it.
For Kingdom people, what ought to stir as well, is to hear that over one third of the world’s population has still not heard the gospel. One third of humanity hasn’t heard that through the blood that Jesus shed upon the cross 2000 years ago, they can have their sins forgiven and be part of God’s family thus entering into the Kingdom of God. Surely this ought to make any Kingdom person begin to mourn and to cry out, “God, what can I do to change this?”
Mother Teresa, in the midst of abysmal poverty, once said: “If you cannot feed 100 people, can you feed just 1?” Can I add to this and say “If you can’t share the gospel with 100 people, can you share it with just 1?” We cannot do everything but we can do something. We can’t help everyone but we can help someone. We may not be able to change the whole world but we can change a part of it. Kingdom people are not so overwhelmed by the task that they do nothing whether it be feeding the poor or sharing the gospel.
The blessing that God promises those who mourn is: “they shall be comforted.” Be it now or later, we are not told. We are only promised that we SHALL be comforted. For those who are mourning the only thing that will comfort them is a God intervention. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, mothers will once again hold their babies in their arms, slaves will receive their freedom, families will be re-united, there will be no more death, no more sickness, no more sin, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain. (Rev 21:4) He is preparing us now for that future Kingdom.
The challenge that was in the main message of Jesus is this, can we begin to behave now as Kingdom people. Can we get so passionate about righteousness and godliness that we will mourn when we see unrighteousness and ungodliness? Can we get so emotionally attached to our world that we are motivated enough now to do something positive for it? A true response to this challenge can only be seen in our actions and not a simple nodding of the head. This challenge requires kingdom people to step up to the plate and lead the way in action and response.
Notes by Ps John Iuliano – Senior Minister, North Shore Christian Centre, Chatswood, NSW, Australia. Published with permission.