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Us vs Them

Weekly Devotionals

Us vs Them

Mathew 5:3-10

“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.

Our bible study just went over the Beatitudes and we discussed how hard it is to live out these kingdom values. The world doesn’t think too highly of the meek or poor or merciful. There’s certainly enough evil in the world that directly confronts what Jesus is teaching here. Right after these blessings, Jesus himself warns us that we will persecuted.

I think we have to be careful about setting up false dichotomies when we read Scripture and how it reflects on who we are vs how the world is. We tend to think in terms of us vs them whereas the Bible makes it clear that we are them. We are the ones that disobey, we murder our brothers in our hearts, and our sins crucified Jesus. We think too highly of ourselves, assuming we would never be the Pharisee or deny Jesus like Paul.

We also think too low of the world assuming that nothing good can come from it and that it will always be against us. We make presumptions about unbelievers thinking we are worlds apart in our values and goals. Scripture also provides plenty of examples of good coming from unexpected places. God chooses Bethlehem, uses women, and upholds Samaritans as sources of goodness.

This tendency we all have, to assume that we are good and the world is bad, affects how we relate to the world. It’s hard to be meek at work if we assume that it will not be rewarded. We’re unlikely to be merciful with our kids because we assume they’ll walk all over us if we show any weakness and inconsistencies. The Sermon on the Mount instead shows us what the kingdom of God actually looks like. If we take it seriously, if we believe any of the Bible to be true, we have to believe that it applies not just be me but to everyone. That’s the definition of any truth. It’s constant. If an unbeliever made peace, would they not be blessed?

The values in the Beatitudes don’t just apply to Christians. I truly believe that these values are universal because we are all made in the image of God. We find evidence for the attractiveness of these values even in popular media. There’s plenty of stories of people showing mercy when they had the right to retaliate or examples of business leaders who show true humility in the workplace. Even “secular” media sources uphold such people who exhibit the marks of the Beatitudes. Think of how many movies tug at your heart with the selfless act of an unsung hero. The world recognizes goodness because God himself created the world.

There will be plenty of times we are ridiculed for doing the right thing and we may even be persecuted for being Christian. But we cannot let sin discourage us from doing good if we truly believe what Jesus says is Truth. The kingdom of God is here and now and it’s all around us. Maybe if we thought a little less of ourselves and more highly of the world, we’d recognize the kingdom in surprising places and not shy away from living out our faith. If the world really saw Christians be incredibly meek and never boast, always make peace and stay pure, then there would be much more of “us” and fewer of “them.”