Living with Kingdom Character
Understanding God’s calling and expectations for us as children of God can often be much easier than living out His calling. Kingdom Character is not simply knowing what we are to do, but knowing how to live it out in the world as God’s ambassadors for His Kingdom. Learning to live out God’s Truth in the love of Jesus is where our Kingdom Character is put on full display. God’s plan is for each of us to shine in life in such a way that others will be led to glorify God. As we hear from God’s Word this morning, we will be encouraged with the privilege of bringing our God glory in the everyday of things of our life.
The last of the traits of being a member of God’s Kingdom that Jesus mentions in the beatitudes is the one we don’t like to acknowledge – the fact we will be persecuted for following Jesus. God’s Kingdom values are in direct conflict with the values of the world. We can’t be living like the world and following Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, we will be “out of step” with the world. Nonetheless, Jesus reminds us no matter what we may temporarily endure in this world for Jesus, our joy in the rewards of our heavenly Kingdom will be ours forever.
The world runs on division and discord – they are the power supply of Satan. The peace of God on the other hand, is something that surpasses the understanding of the world. It is a state of living in the righteousness of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Peacemaking is built on the back of the other Kingdom Character qualities. God’s peacemakers live a life of sacrificial love, grounded in God’s truth, living confidently in the promises of God’s Kingdom. As we learn to live as peacemakers in the world, people will recognize we are followers of Jesus, sons and daughters of God.
The Pure in Heart
“Purity of heart” is directly tied to our ability to know God more fully and to see life through God’s eyes; it is a Kingdom Character trait rooted in casting aside all the things of the world that cloud our view of God. “Purity of heart” moves us from simply acknowledging God with our minds, to embracing and living out our relationship with Him in our hearts. Join us this morning as we consider God’s invitation to know Him more deeply.
While the first four beatitudes focused on Kingdom Character traits that are inwardly focused, Jesus now begins to encourage us with how our Kingdom Character should be lived out. Having mercy – not giving people what they may deserve as a result of their failures – should be something we comprehend better than any Kingdom Character trait. While the idea of mercy may run counter to the world’s concept of people “getting what they deserve”, it goes to the core of our own salvation in Jesus. As we learn to extend the mercy of Jesus to others, we will find ourselves living with a greater awareness of God’s ongoing mercy in our own lives as well.
Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
We want to live fully in the power of Jesus in life; able to withstand the pressures of life, to have the strength to carry the burdens of life, and live as the “new creation” we are in Jesus. Righteousness is our power for living fully in our newness of life. God promises the righteousness we need to live fully for Him will be satisfied in proportion to our hunger and thirst for that righteousness – and it will not go unsatisfied.
For many people, gentleness is equated with weakness. We struggle with not wanting to be seen as “weak” in life – fearful of being taken advantage of. Our pride pushes us to desire to be “strong” in life. One of the most difficult character traits to comprehend in life is the power of the gentleness of Christ for our lives. We will be reminded this morning Jesus does not need to fight the world – He created it and holds it in His hand. Our promise from God this morning is we can lay aside all the bravado in life and live with the same passionate, gentleness of Jesus, confident there is no power in life that can stand against Jesus, and of our eternal inheritance through our faith in Him.
Those Who Mourn
Mourning, as an expression of grief for the losses we suffer in life, is an inevitable part of our world. In biblical times, however, mourning frequently referred to grief for their failure, individually and/or collectively, to live as God would have them live. It was a sorrow for their sins. Jesus is encouraging us this morning that the heaviness of our sins that weigh us down will be replaced by the comfort that comes from Jesus having paid the penalty for our sins, as we learn to bring our sins to His cross and find God’s forgiveness in Jesus.
The Poor in Spirit
Poverty is something in this world that people seek to avoid. Yet, Jesus tells us those who are “spiritually” bankrupt are “blessed”. Spiritual poverty leads us to recognize that, apart from Jesus, we are destined for eternal death and suffering. Spiritual poverty leads us to desire the life that only faith in Jesus can bring; it leads us to worship our God Who brings us new life in Jesus; and it leads us to live focused on the assurance of our eternal Kingdom, instead of the things of our broken world.
The gospels of Matthew and Mark both record at the outset of His earthly ministry, Jesus declared “the kingdom of heaven” is at hand. As followers of Jesus, we are no longer citizens of the world; we belong to the Kingdom of God. An understanding of what that involves will help us to focus on the character qualities Jesus describes we possess, as citizens of God’s Kingdom, in the beatitudes. Join us this morning as we consider what it means to be a citizen of God’s Kingdom.