Back to basics: the kingdom 4


Matthew 5:7-8

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Living out our beliefs through good values

Perfect pastor

Not me! The corporate image of the omnicompetent super pastor might not be so desirable if we take note of what Jesus prioritises. Wouldn’t you rather have someone who God loves to work with?

Matthew 5:7-8 NIV
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

AT first sight, this is less ‘upside down’ and it seems more straightforward. Look at what it says a bit more closely and we’ll see that Jesus’ words still confront the world’s order.

Those whose primary concern is to be merciful are those, who in the words of job profiles and CVs, might not “make tough decisions”.

I recently saw a profile for a medium-size and quite unexceptional church I know that is seeking a pastor. Listen with me to the brief. It includes: “demonstrable experience of leading large and diverse churches, developing a large team of paid workers, able to balance conflicting demands and make tough decisions, successfully delegating responsibility and maintaining focus in multiple congregations.”

The pure in heart might intentionally not “balance conflicting demands” in the way the corporate world means it!

More to the point, the pure in heart might choose not to do business with the jargon and murky values of the corporate world, but instead maintain focus on the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33 which we will come to later). In terms of Jesus’ teaching here, that would be a good call.

Jesus is challenging His hearers today, as He did then, to demonstrate a particular kind of personal leadership, by living as representatives of a different world order.

In the world represented by His kingdom, the tough decision is not to be effective in a corporate or business-practice way, but to remain merciful, to do what is right in God’s sight and not to be swayed by what is expedient.

The more difficult call, the challenge for a Christian who wants to be seen to live out their beliefs in distinctive values, is to seek and listen to what God is saying in a situation – and to let that be a pure note of guidance that sounds clearly over and above other notes that do not harmonise with it.

Blessed are those who are not giving the appearance of a perfectly groomed life while playing games with God and others, but who are seeking to be as open and honest and obedient to the Father as Jesus was. Make this your goal and God will make His goal for you, showing you what His love and mercy is like.

Reality check

  • Are you pure in heart or is there a part of you that needs to keep up appearances and make what isn’t good, look good?
  • If you are feeling a love deficit (who doesn’t, at times), how will you encounter God and experience His mercy, in terms of this passage?
  • What is one area or decision in your life where you can now choose to be “pure in heart” and seek righteousness, rather than doing what is expected or expedient.

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