As I studied and dug deeper I realized how so many Christians (including me) have slipped into looking more like the world and less "set apart", in the world but not of the world.
Unless Christians are living counter-culturally, I submit that they are not living as Christians at all. If you can look at a "Christian" and and only see someone who doesn't swear too much, goes to church, has a fish sticker on his/her car, or a WWJD bracelet (is that too dated now?), there is a serious problem to address. Christians were never supposed to "'fit in". Rather, Christians were to be weird, head-turning, counter-cultural persons living in this world with a unique hope and joy that leads others to wonder why. Unbelievers are meant not to slip into the culture that is around them, infiltrating like spies and covertly fitting in with those around them. Christians are meant to live in a completely different culture than that of the world, giving the world a refreshing and needed alternative, the only one that has true hope for the future.
Jesus spoke to this effect in Matthew 5 as he goes through the Beatitudes. As I read more about them and studied them more fully, I realized that what Jesus said had everything to do with who we were mean to be and what attitudes we were meant to have while living out this short but meaningful life. In short, he was telling us about "Be Attitudes."
So for the next eight blog posts I'm dedicating myself to writing about these important and counter-cultural "attitudes of being" that Jesus seems to find so important. Hey, that must mean that we should pay attention, right?
1) ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. What does this mean? Well, frankly it is a fairly simple concept, couched in language that is a little challenging to process. So let's make it easy, in simply contemporary words.
"Blessed are those who humbly understand their need for God’s help and fully rely on Him."
You are living (at least partly) as a committed follow of Christ when you realize how little you are and how you bring nothing to the table to present to God in your relationship. We are truly nothing in the eyes of God, sinners condemned to hell and yet by His good grace He chose to reach down from heaven and make us something because of the saving work of Christ. It is because of Jesus that our lives have lasting significance and we are to continually remember our need to turn our eyes to God, realizing our need to Him to empower and work through us.
Why is this counter-cultural?
Our world lauds those who self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-sustaining, and self-made. Admitting your need for help is a sign of weakness. "Be strong. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and carry on, pushing through the pain. You can do it. After all, you can do anything you want if you try hard enough."
But that isn't what Christ thinks. In fact it is quite the opposite. His view of strength is paradoxically found in weakness, as we lift our eyes to the sky with open palms, crying out, "I am nothing without you, God."
When that is our attitude, our future is not only in participating in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth but also in the gift of eternal life that is to come on the other side.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."