Written by: Bill Elliff
The Sermon on the Mount is the most complete statement Jesus gives us of what life is like in the New Kingdom…the Kingdom of God. It is made possible by a new King, under which we have gladly bowed. The first three beatitudes describe this spiritual progression that brings us under His Lordship—seeing our spiritual poverty, mourning over our condition and humbly bowing in meekness to His rule (Matthew 5:3-5). Once there by God’s grace, are lives are on a new trajectory and are never the same.
A CONTRASTING LIFE
“You have heard it said, but I say,” is the rhythm of His message about our new life. “In the kingdom of this world, this is normal behavior,” Jesus said. We all understand the natural workings of sinful, human responses. “But my kingdom is exactly the opposite.” The Christ-follower is completely counter-culture.
And nowhere is this more brilliantly seen than in how we deal with those who hurt us, taught to us by Christ in ten of the most profound verses ever spoken in Matthew 5:38-48.
These statements rocked the world in Jesus’ day (when men were living under the constantly cruelty of Roman oppression). And they are just as powerful today.
8 SUPERNATURAL RESPONSES
Look at the 8 statements of the true believer’s behavior when he or she is hurt by others. This is our manifesto, our calling as followers of the Kingdom. They are, at first reading, so counter-intuitive that we recoil at the thought and rush to argue against them. But when studied, we realize they are not random statements or suggestions. They are the 8 ways we are to actually respond to others who hurt us.
I list them here with no explanation, just as they were heard on the mountainside from the lips of Jesus Christ. Read them carefully, take them at face value with no resistance. No caveats or “Yes, but…” explanations. If you are tempted to argue that Jesus’ day was different, remember that his hearers were under far greater persecution than you may ever experience. Meditate on these simple directives and ask God to show you how they directly apply to your responses to those who hurt you.
Anyone who has been hurt, particularly those who’ve been hurt deeply, knows that these responses are impossible for normal humans. That is why they are such an extraordinary witness—a stunning picture of what can happen to men and women who are filled with God.
They prove that we are “sons of (our) Father who is in heaven” (vs. 45). That we are different. That we do not live for this world. That our lives are set on a higher agenda. That we have died to self-protection and live to simply manifest Christ. And they provide for us what the King says will be our “greatest reward” (vs. 46).
HAVE YOU BEEN HURT?
If you haven’t just keep breathing, for this present darkness is full of pain. But for the true followers of Jesus we have the amazing privilege of rising above…of being the mature, complete ones on this earth because the Perfect One lives in us. If you find this path you will discover that no one can overcome you, for you have laid all rights to respond like others down. You live for a higher agenda: to show the world the incomparable love of Christ.
And as we yield to His Lordship and rely on His sufficient empowering, those who hurt us “see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven”…and are stunned by the difference.
(copyright Bill Elliff, All Rights Reserved)
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