By Barrett Vanlandingham
First off, let me say thank you to all of the new readers of my Fort Faith column. I have actually been writing this column since early 2007, just after the big ice storm hit. But until the last few weeks, it has only been seen by subscribers of the Fort Gibson Times and online.
Your response in the form of calls and e-mails has been very encouraging to me.
Please pray that my writings continue to spread God’s word, and encourage our readers to trust and obey the Lord’s will. Please let me know if there is a topic you would like me to write about. In the meantime, here is my column for this week.
By the world’s standards, Christianity does not make a lot of sense. The reason is that most people view success in a completely different way than Jesus taught. This is why we sometimes use the phrase “upside down kingdom” to describe all things Jesus.
There is no teaching that illustrates this more than the Sermon on the Mount, which took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry just after Satan tested Him in the wilderness for forty days. Word spread quickly about the miraculous healings Jesus had performed throughout the region of Galilee.
I can only imagine the excitement in the crowd that gathered to hear what he had to say. When Jesus began to speak, many people were no doubt shocked and amazed by his message that began with what we call the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-10.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You see, up until Jesus’ ministry, people only knew of the Old Testament writings and its 600-plus rules that the Jews tried (unsuccessfully) to keep. The world was desperately in need of a Savior, a perfect sacrifice, superior to that of bulls and goats required under the Old Covenant.
So, when Jesus came preaching a message of loving God, loving others, practicing humility and dependence on God instead of a system based on works, this really gave people something to think about. It was not only different from the Old Law, but it was drastically different from the world’s way of thinking that the more power and money you have, the better off you are. Yes, Christians are part of a kingdom. But it is unlike any earthly kingdom in history. In fact, the Bible says most people do not want any part of it. That opinion will change one day. But it may be too late. This week, tell someone about the love of Jesus by your words, actions, and attitude. Have a great week!