This past couple of weeks I have had some amazing conversations with some wonderful new people in my life. Within the context of relationship (getting to know, respect and like each other) the question has come up more then once: What IS a Christian?
This question is not as easy to answer as you might at first think. Most of the people that I hang out with throughout the week have a lot of different ideas on church, religions, Christianity. I would say that many of those I talk with who have indicated that they, “tried Christianity,” will say, “it didn’t stick” or “wasn’t for them”, or simply “Christianity is just like every other religion.” I would venture that 95% of the time, with further conversation (listening more then talking), I discover that really the person has rejected religious Christianity and has never really took a hard look at the claims of Christ for their life. So the question might be better put, “Who would Jesus call a Christian?” A deep, thoughtful study of the Sermon on the Mount and how Christ put flesh to the message of the kingdom He proclaimed will best answer that question.
The Beatitudes point out, unappoligetically, those who will be blessed by being included in the kingdom of God. In essence these qualities ARE the answer to the question. Jesus tells us that those who are Christ followers will be the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, etc. This is not a list of seperate people groups. This is a description of the make up of EVERYONE who will enter the kingdom- EVERYONE who Christ would consider a Christian. When you read over the words of the Beatitudes with this in mind, at some point in reading the description- if you claim to be a Christian and are seriously checking to see if this describes you- becomes disturbing. I don’t know about you but for me it gets really uncomfortable right here: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
I find within me a distracting hunger and thirst for all kinds of things that I would not consider to be truly ‘righteous’. In fact often times we are quicker to turn to the things that we KNOW are unrighteous (ungodly-not right- in God’s eyes). The thought of hunger and thirst is a pinning, for, a longing, hoping, seeking, deep desiring for. Righteousness holds the idea of right standing, a justified acceptance for who we are based upon a record of what we have done. Here in lies the rub, the discomfort that rises up in my soul. I long for a sense of deeper soul rightness. I find within myself a need for a deeper assurance of acceptance on a soul level yet there is nothing I can do, try, buy, change, or succeed at that will give me this deeper assurance of righteousness. When I say nothing I mean nothing- including religiosity (rules, dos, don’ts for measuring your goodness).
The righteousness that you and I long for is a surety of acceptance that only KNOWING a right standing before God, our Creator can give. In the book of Ecclesiastes we read, “God has place eternity in man’s heart, yet he cannot know the beginning from the end.”
C.S. Lewis put it this way- “If I find in myself a desire that which no experience in this world can satisfy the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
This is why neither the world nor religion will ever satisfy the deep longing, the hunger and thirst we feel on a soul level. For that kind of satisfaction we need something that only God can give us………