Summary: The Beatitudes are the key to what a saint is all about
Today is All Saints Day and I think the BCP Lectionary has a good Gospel reading for today
For in the BCP lectionary the Gospel reading is chooses Matthew 5:1-12 - The Beatitudes
You see I believe the Beatitudes are foundational for the development of CHRISTIAN CHARACTER
Today is All Saints Day so I wonder what you think a saint is?
From my understanding of Scripture: A saint is simply a person who has decided to follow Christ
St Paul addresses his letters to congregations and he calls them “The Saints”
Ephesians 1:1 Paul writes:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus
Or if we look at the opening of the book of Philippians
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: (Philippians 1:1)
The word Saint comes from a Gk word Hagios which means to set aside.
In other words saints are those who have been set aside by God.
Being a saint is a journey of learning and following Christ’s teaching.
And the Beatitudes are THE key to understanding the Christian life
The Beatitudes are described in Matthew 5:1-12
3. The Poor in Spirit
4. Those Mourn
5. The Meek
6. Those who Hunger and thirst for righteousness
7. Those who are Merciful
8. The Pure in heart
9. The Peacemakers
10. Those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.
11-12: Those who are insulted because of Christ.
These are nine attitudes that reflect the CHARACTER OF GOD HIMSELF.
Of course these do not cover all of God’s character because the totality of God is far beyond our comprehension.
But as we are made “in the image of God”, (Gen 1:27), it is not surprising that Jesus encourages us to seek that sort of character that will reflect God’s character.
Rabbi Jonathan Sachs in his book “Not in God’s Name”
“The Sermon on the Mount tells us to love our enemies. That is a supremely beautiful idea, but not an easy one.”
He is right - being a Christian is not easy.
After all it was Jesus who himself said:
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Lk 9:23).
It is interesting that when Jesus summed the Law of God up, he did not refer to outward signs of religion but in inward attitudes of heart.
And it is these attitudes that govern our lives:
He agreed with the Pharisee who said that the Law was all about loving God and neighbour
When you take that on, you can see that a person has to have a change of heart because we live in a very selfish society – and the two Great Commandments are anything but selfish
Many of us have our own ideas as to what the Bible means and says:
We have our own interpretation of the Bible so often:
Story: When I was younger I used to think the Lord must have said:
“Blessed are those who do not preach long
For they shall finish their text.”
CAFÉ CHURCH - Click SLIDE: PREACHER AND CONGREGATION ASLEEP
But actually it does take time to really get to the root of what the Bible is saying.
Café Church CLICK on to the next screen
People have strange ideas of what the Bible says.
Let us just look at one verse this morning: Matthew 5:6 where Jesus said: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
What does RIGHTEOUSNESS really mean – that is in REAL Life
2.WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS ABOUT?
When we talk of God's righteousness we speak of his intrinsic Holiness.
We speak of the moral perfection of God.
And it is interesting to note that the term in the Scripture: “The Righteous One” is a Messianic Title (Is 53:11)
However when we talk of righteousness with respect to man, this takes on a different meaning,
We will never achieve God’s righteousness, here on this earth but Jesus calls us to strive after it.
Put another way, Jesus calls us, once we become Christians, to change how we live and to follow Him
Becoming a Christian for the first time is a process which we call Salvation
Allowing Jesus to mould your life into the way he wants it to be is a process called Sanctification.
We can't say we are seeking to be righteous in God’s sight when we don’t work on very obvious weaknesses of character.
As a prominent atheist once said: "I'd be a Christian if it wasn't for the Christians."
And it was the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who famously said: