Friends, we are diving into a new series this week! Please feel free to share and invite your friends and family to join us as we explore the Beatitudes and Matthew's Gospel over the next four weeks.
Sunday's Gospel, Matthew 5:1-12, or more commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount is when Jesus began to teach his Disciples what we know today as the Beatitudes. They were just a taste of what Jesus would continue to teach, but because they are some of the first that really presented what Jesus had come to do; to be peaceful and merciful rather than an end the Roman regime as many Jewish people hoped and believed, they can be seen as the introduction to the new Christian faith Christ had come to establish.
Today, the Beatitudes can be seen as a sort of Christian fight song, our pump-up jam, our personal anthem as we take on each day in faith. But the Beatitudes can be confusing, what does it really mean to be poor in spirit or to be meek? How can we be peacemakers and still stand up for what we believe in? How do we truly show mercy? These are challenges we all face as good Children of Christ, and only by examining what Jesus does throughout his ministry can we truly understand what He called each of us to do and be that day on the mountain.
Today, just take a moment to read over Matthew's chapter five and compare it your own life and try to create your own definition for each of the Beatitudes. After all, we don't all have the same pump-up songs. And then go listen to your personal Christian anthem. If you don't have one, then I would recommend "Beautiful Things" by Gungor, "Lord I need You" by Matt Mahr, or "Stars" by Skillet.
One of the many struggles we face in our faith in God is that we can't truly fathom our Creator. Some of us handle this by shrinking God down into something we can better understand, a father, a daddy who loves us and only wants the best for us. Others blow God up and excuse their lack of understanding of God by calling it impossible, and giving up. But to know and fear the Lord is a blessing; a challenge we are called to take on.
Psalm 147:4 tells us that God created each every star and calls them by name. There are billions of stars in our night sky, more than we can see or even fathom. And yet, God took the time to create and name each individual one. How is that any different than the care and love that was taken with each of us? God knew us before we were our great-grandparents dreaming of their great-grandchildren; before anyone had even considered us, we were loved.
Our great, fathomless God took the time to look at all that was created and think that the world also needed one of me. It needed a big-opinioned, curly-headed, blogger to share her words. And it also needed a less-opinionated, louder, taller man to be her husband. And so on. We can know the Lord by knowing that we were created with a particular thought and purpose; we may not understand it completely, but that isn't what we are supposed to do. We to can learn know God through God's words, particularly in the New Testament. When we study Jesus's teaching about His Father, we can better know what God asks of us in the new faith that Jesus came to teach.
Fear of the Lord brings its own challenges, but by applying God's words to our lives, we can grow to love and fear God as we are called to do. Fear of the Lord springs from the Old Testament, a reminder of how real and active God can be our lives. God can be a great pillar of fire, like in the book of Exodus. God can send prophets to warn us and perform miracles. God can be very present and active in our lives. We should fear that greatness as the incomprehensible, awesome power that it is.
To know now and fear the Lord is a complicated calling. We can't make God smaller in effort to allow our human understanding to be able to comprehend. But we also should not make God so great and terrible that we cannot love God as the good, loving God we know God to be. Today, let us examine how and even if we know and fear God by reflecting on how and when we pray. Do we pray all the time, with countless little demands throughout the day? Or do we only pray for the really big stuff? What does that say about your faith in God?