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Imitation of Christ Series

What Does It Mean To Be A Christian

“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…”  Matthew 5:3-12

The idea of this series of devotionals came from a conversation had at my house on New Year’s Day with friends.  From the conversation, I realized that many Christians have varying degrees of how they view God and Christ.  We are all different with various backgrounds, personalities, and experiences therefore with some things our lens of interpretation may be different.   On that day as I was challenged about my beliefs and hopefully challenged others as well, I was left thinking, “What exactly do we (proclaimed Christians) believe?” My hope is that through this devotional and the ones I hope to follow will challenge and cause you to examine your personal convictions and beliefs in light of what the Bible actually says.  In other words, I hope to make you study and think as will I.

Imagine you heard of Jesus and decided to go see what the talk has been about throughout the country side. From town to town you follow Him to hear Him speak.  As you’ve followed Christ, you have seen Him heal the sick and the maimed. You are one of thousands clamoring to hear Him tell you how to be blessed.  And so as He starts to address the crowd on this day, you sit down expecting to hear Him tell you the key to a blessed life.  And He does…  When Jesus delivered His Sermon on the Mount, He did something unique to the times – then and now.  He defined the concept of a blessed life, except He didn’t define it as you or I would most likely define blessed.  Instead, He defined it in a radical way. Blessed are the poor; blessed are the hungry; blessed are the humble; and blessed are those persecuted for doing right.  Why did Christ define those as people who are blessed?  Do we consider them blessed? Who is more blessed – the homeless man or the celebrity on TV?  We may answer that one way, but what would Jesus say?  He was a “homeless” man Himself (Matthew 8:20).

When we look at the heavenly definition of success, we realize that money, fame, and material goods are not how God shows favor or blesses people.  They can be conduits to fulfilling His will, but they are not by definition a blessing.  During the Sermon on the Mount, Christ laid out what it meant to be a Christian living a life blessed by God.  The life He described was one dependent on Him and Him alone.  Yet in reality, as Christians we sometimes struggle being the very thing that makes us blessed in Christ’s eyes and closer to Him.  We struggle with being humble; we struggle with persecution; we struggle with being peacekeepers; and we struggle with having less than with regards to financial resources.

Yet as Christ defined the blessed, He also encouraged His followers to take heart because our reward would not be here, but would await us in heaven.  And being a Christian means accepting that to be true, even if we pray and wish for a reward on earth.  But more importantly, being a Christian means being utterly and truly dependent on God. It means regardless of your circumstance, that you are seeking His face and His will so much that you don’t focus on the situation at hand.  Being a Christian is about a faith walk and journey.  Simply put, blessed are those that follow and depend on Him.