A Ray of Hope

 

In a time where public opinion rarely speaks well of Christianity, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Easter address is a ray of hope. In his recent, viral video Cameron explicitly commends Christianity. After explaining that Easter celebrates the ultimate victory of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, PM Cameron proceeds to give reasons why every person should be thankful for the presence of the Church in the world.

Admittedly, I do not pretend to know the Prime Minister’s political or spiritual motivations/convictions for this video. However, as a Christian, I was thankful for this address. I see this as a ray of hope; of Scripture being fulfilled because it is an example of someone seeing the good works of God’s people and expressing and encouraging thankfulness for them.

A Lesson from the Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-16: In this famous passage, Jesus outlines some characteristics of the “blessed” person. We can categorize them in the following ways…

1. In the first four beatitudes, we can see the description of someone who looks to God for help.  Being poor in spirit, mourning for the brokenness of the world, meekness, and hungering and thirsting for righteousness in the world and oneself; these are characteristics of a person who is longing and trusting in God’s intervention. This happens through God’s Anointed One, Jesus. To live in this way requires a person to stop living in fear of the world, and to begin living in faith in Christ.

2. The next three beatitudes describe how living in faith fundamentally changes the way your interact with the world around you. Being merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker; these are characteristics that demonstrate a trust in the sovereignty of God and an understanding of His will. When life is lived by faith in Jesus, we respond to the world as He did. 

3. The last beatitude describes how the “blessed” person does not live for self-preservation, but as a living sacrifice. The world will react to this lifestyle with hostility. When a person lives by faith in Christ, and responds to the world as He did, they will face persecution as He did. This warning echoes throughout the New Testament.

The final beatitude is further explained as Jesus personalizes His exhortation. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” On the surface, being blessed by Jesus’ standard doesn’t sound very appealing. But we see that the blessing that Jesus promises is not simply met temporally, but eternally. Vs. 12 reads, “ Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” 

In summary of this description of a “blessed” person, Jesus explains with illustrations of salt and light that living as “blessed” people is for a particular purpose: so that people “will see your good works, and give glory to your Father in Heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) 

In other words, the people of God do not exist for themselves, but for the benefit of others. The Church, God’s blessed people” exists primarily for the glory of God, and secondarily so that the world might be “blessed.” 

As God’s people try to live as Christ did, God’s promise to Abraham that through his offspring all the nations of the world would be blessed finds its fulfillment; Blessed now through good works of His people, and potentially blessed forever through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

And this is why I’m thankful for PM Cameron’s address. It is a ray of hope. A reminder that a city on a hill can’t be hidden. A refresher to all believers of why the Church is essential to this world. What John Piper said about missions can be said of the whole Church: “It exists because worship doesn’t.” 

A prayer emerges…

In a world that often ignores the good of the Church, my prayer is that more people would give glory to God by sharing the testimonies of the good that God is doing.

  • May our neighborhoods, communities, and countries be filled with stories that celebrate God for when justice prevailed (racial, economic, judicial, ethical) by means of a people who know God’s justice will prevail.
  • May people give thanks to God as they mourn for simple comforts received from those who take comfort in the truth of the Gospel and in the cross of Christ.
  • May people give thanks to God when they are shown mercy in basic forgiveness, when good deeds have been done from a purity of heart, and when peace has been pursued by the efforts of a forgiven and redeemed people, washed white by the blood of the Lamb, and made ministers of reconciliation who make peace between God and man.

 

 

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