Most nights Ethan wakes us up at some point. It’s usually because he gets up to use the restroom and he wants to, apparently, fill us in on his activity. This is fine and we’ve grown accustomed to being awoken, but occasionally, in the dark of the night, he decides to turn our light on to get our attention. That is a very rude way to be awoken when you are in the depths of la-la land. From darkness to light in a flick of a switch is startling, and frankly, unwelcome!
In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5-7, we’ve been looking specifically at how Jesus begins this powerful message to His disciples. We’ve seen how Jesus says they are happy (blessed) when…
-You are spiritually broken or lost.
-You mourn that brokenness.
-You realize you are helpless to repair the damage.
-You long, hunger and thirst, to be made right again.
-You have mercy on the brokenness of others and, at the same time, receive the saving mercy of the Lord.
-You become pure in heart through the powerful and amazing grace of God.
-You, in compassion for the brokenness of others, set out to help them find peace with God too.
Back to Ethan turning on the light. I mean really, it is an unpleasant thing. Now I think Jessica and I do a good job as parents, and we sure love our kids, but it is difficult to be calm when you are suddenly jolted awake and you know it’s not an emergency but just a routine unwelcome wake-up call. It’d be great if we said “Hi, sweet boy! So good to see you! How can we be of help?”. But the reaction is more a loud “turn it off!”.
Jesus says that once you come to find a pure heart and peace with God, it is natural to want to help everyone else find that too. It is Christ-like to bring people to the light of Christ.
Some people like living in the dark. Some people want to stay blind to their sin. Some people don’t want to surrender control to the Lord. And some people don’t want to hear anything about it at all.
To them, hearing of salvation is like being awoken from their slumber with a bright light, and an air horn, and a bucket of icy cold water on the head all at once!
So when someone tries this, they don’t respond with, “hey friend! Thanks for sharing this with me!” but rather with aggressive (often mean) words and behavior.
Jesus indicates this to us in the Sermon…
Right after saying “blessed are the peacemakers”, Jesus says that those who are persecuted “because of righteousness” are blessed.
It is our privilege to carry the Gospel of Jesus into the lives of others. It is a joy when they receive it as the life-saving grace that it is. Yet some will hate that we are doing so. To them, they don’t want to be rescued. They don’t want God or peace with Him (at least they don’t understand it). And so they will react in negative ways, maybe in ways that will threaten our very lives.
Yet what are we to do? Leave them to their darkness? Fail to attempt rescue after rescue? No! Again, it is our privilege and joy to share the greatest news in the universe with others. But Jesus prepares us to know that not everyone will be glad to hear it. So he says…
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:10-12 NIV
So we pray that the Spirit of the Lord will go before us. Softening the hearts of those who we will meet. We pray that the same Spirit will strengthen us with resolve to love instead of react back. And may we do so for the Lord who did so for us.