Monday, October 29, 2012

Having Jesus in Your Heart 10

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”  Matthew 5:1-11

In His first major speech, Jesus describes what it looks like, and what it feels like, to have Him in your heart. There is a unity, a correspondence and an integrity of your inner life with your outer behavior; it is not a matter of one or the other, but of “both/and.” We have here an outline of the motives and their behaviors that will establish Jesus in your heart.
When I look at this list, I am struck by its comprehensiveness and its challenge. The behaviors required of a Christian are often extremely challenging. And the nature and quality of the inner life of these behaviors are often unsatisfying to my physical life (like becoming something called a “child of God” when what I want is peace on earth!).
What is amazing is the consistent search for love for myself, my neighbor and the world, that flows through all His teachings, as evidenced so well here. Throughout all His speeches there is a steady current of love carrying us along–Jesus loves us and never condemns; He lifts, does not put down; leaves us free and never compels. We know He is on our side, because He tells us clearly about the other side, which is spiritual death.
As this love forms my attitudes and produces my speech and action, Jesus is actually in my heart, spiritually and physically. Science has discovered that unconditional love reduces stress and supports heart health! And psychology has described how unconditional love – and even lesser attitudes of regard for others – produces greater measures of happiness, And countless disciples of Jesus Christ who have become habituated to unconditional love will describe an inner peace and strength not available to them otherwise.
We will see in this and coming articles that Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 are all about how to live so that Jesus is in our hearts. Some of the attitudes and behaviors He asks us to take on are tough to get and tough to do. Some are easy. Each behavior He asks us to do has a reward connected to it. Perhaps one way to look at this is to see the promised result as the result of a required behavior. Go through this first set of requirements to be a good person, and mentally rank them on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being easy to do, 3 being hard to do, and 5 being impossible at this time (being hopeful that you will be able some day). You are encouraged to take on the spiritual discipline of one of the harder behaviors, watching the results in your spiritual life. And then recognize that the fulfillment of the inner promise IS having Jesus in your heart!
Verse 3: Be humble; you will get everything you want
Verse 4: Be sad when evil happens; people will sympathize with you
Verse 5: Let another win an argument; powerlessness wins
Verse 6 Look for goodness; find justice
Verse 7: Forgive; will be forgiven
Verse 8: Consistently do good; will consistently have understanding
Verse 9: Make peace; become powerful
Verses 10 & 11: Accept rejection; achieve serenity of an eternal perspective

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