Matthew 5:1-12.....Too often we read the Beatitudes as passive statements or promises of future rewards, but they are an active proclamation of God's reign amid human misery, a prophetic reversal of the status quo, a call to build a just and humane society. True blessedness is not meek or submissive but rather subversive. It is an invitation to rise up and act righteously. True blessedness starts with holy anger and divine discontent, followed by a burning desire to change the world to conform with the righteousness of God. True holiness begins with a transformed heart and seeks God's righteousness in all spheres of human life. Kingdom values must penetrate not only individuals but also the family, economy, culture, and politics. Holiness devoid of social justice is a caricature of the gospel of Christ.
Matthew 5 is a call to integrity. In the first 12 verses, Jesus revealed through the Beatitudes the identity of those who choose to follow him. Then in the following thirteen verses, he makes sure they understand that identity is not merely a theoretical matter but rather a lifestyle characterized by good works. So, why does Jesus emphasize good works? In Jesus' day there were corrupt religious leaders who sought to serve themselves rather than others. Their teachings were clearly contrary to their actions. That is why Jesus warned his followers, “...Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (v.16)
Perhaps the religious leaders couldn't shine before people because they had not undergone an internal transformation. They could not give what they didn't possess. Shining before others means we allow the light of Christ to transform the darkest and secret areas of our lives, even those that cause us shame. Our good works reflect the light of Christ acting in and through us.
Matthew 5:17-20...In a postmodern context in which almost everything is being deconstructed and in which people increasingly lose faith in institutions, there is no better way to evangelize than with the witness of good works. To maintain integrity, religious institutions need to maintain a strong sense of spiritual disciplines that allow the transforming light of Christ to bring darkness into light that place us before sanctifying grace: confession, covenant groups, and mentoring.
On a wall in a church sanctuary in North Mississippi, there was a sign that said that we are a hospital for sinners not a club for saints. We all share the same humanity; we all have the potential for sin. Therefore, it is important to practice compassion, the ability to suffer with people. Our churches need to take steps toward compassion, vulnerability, transparency, and grace. If we do not practice community life, our justice will not surpass that of the teachers of religious law of Jesus' time on earth. Without these disciplines, we will lose our capacity to shine.
In Matthew, Jesus tells his followers that living faith is shown by bringing flavor and light to the world. Otherwise our faith if useless to those around us.
How can we transform ourselves to fulfill God's commandments?