In yesterday’s post, I suggested that having right beliefs alone is insufficient for defining what Christianity is and answering the question of “who” or “what” is a Christian. I mentioned how the early believers came to be regarded as Christians because they were committed, as his disciples of Jesus, to a way of life. This way of life was, in short, the life Jesus lived and taught his disciples to live. Therefore while right beliefs are essential to Christianity, so also is a way of life.
What then does this way of life look like? How do we recognize this way of life? These are the questions we need to ask. The simple answer, as I already mentioned, is that this way of life is lived as Jesus lived his life and taught his disciples to live. It is a life that is based on the beliefs and values of the world-view Jesus lived out of. Now I realize that among New Testament scholarship the answers to these questions remain unsettled but even so, that should not prevent us from getting a reasonable idea of what this life entails.
Perhaps one way to begin understanding what this life entails is to begin with those statements about life that Jesus said were blessed…the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
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.
If you want to know how this applies to some pretty specific issues like lusting, revenge, praying, etc… then just read the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.
But here is what I believe we should be asking at this point:
- When we read these blessings, what sort of beliefs and values seem to underpin these blessings?
- In our own cultural contexts, can we paint a verbal picture as to what this life of blessings looks like? Can we describe what
If we can answer these two questions, I believe we will have a great leg up on understanding what the proper Christian “way of life” entails and what it looks like to live that life. Perhaps the best way to answer these questions is to do so in community, in the company of other Christians so that we can pray, discuss, and discern together.
One more thing… When I was a minister with the Randolph Church of Christ, we developed the following motto: Living, Loving, and Leading like Jesus. The point of the motto was a check to try and make sure that everything we were doing as a church and as individual Christians was like Jesus. The motto assumes a decent understanding of how Jesus lived his life, loved God and neighbor, and led others. Nevertheless, I still believe it is a great memorable motto that can help us discern whether or not our way of life resembles Jesus. And if something in our life doesn’t resemble Jesus, well…