Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Creating A Counterculture Part 2


This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on Sept 5th 2021 by Lasya D via zoom. For the audio & video please click here.  To listen to the worship please click here.

Sermon on the Mount – Creating a Counterculture - Part 2 (Matthew 5:4-5)


 My first introduction to the Christian lifestyle as a new believer was the book of Matthew and until chapter 5 it was a storybook, and suddenly, the book was speaking to me – when I was going through the beatitudes for the very first time, I remember feeling I was going to have to renounce the world and live as a nun. Blessed are you when you are persecuted? Blessed are the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry? To be honest, it scared me.

 But as I developed a relationship with Jesus, I’ve come to understand that His heart is to bless those who are becoming like him. We are not just to be the poor, the mourning and meek, the pure and the persecuted. We are also the comforted, the inheritors of the earth, the satisfied, the children of God, the rewarded. Why do we do these things that crucify the flesh? so that we can be raised with him, in glory and fullness of life. His blessings always surpass the cost, it is always disproportionate. That is how we are to view this passage - not as a list of rules, but as a doorway to blessing, inheritance and reward.

 Last week navaz spoke about this upside-down kingdom that's so countercultural, that goes against the grain of everything that the world teaches us. And today I want to talk about the inside out kingdom. The world looks at performance and rewards the outcome, but God looks at the heart.  Before going on to things like murder, adultery and divorce, Jesus addresses mourning meekness, mercy, purity - he addresses the matters of the heart for everything we do flows from it. Our scripture for today is Matthew 5: 4-5 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.


 In this passage, Jesus is dealing with how to get our inside world to line up with the kingdom of heaven. We started off last week by understanding the blessedness in confessing our utmost dependence and need for Christ. Today we will look at how we express our need for God in our hearts, our mind and our attitudes. How do we get our internal world in alignment with the values of heaven?

 1.      Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted

Contrition leads to comfort – This statement seems like a total paradox. The word blessed in the Greek also translates to happy. So, happy are the unhappy? It makes no sense! But theologians agree that the mourning referred to here is not just a state of our emotions, but a mourning in the spirit that leads to repentance.


    1. Why do we mourn?

Today we live in a grief averse culture – we have 101 ways to cope, avoid, and be distracted from feelings of grief, brokenness, guilt… (illustration - yoga seminar) and then since we don’t mourn, we remain unchanged and we don’t find comfort in the things of the world.

                                                              i.      We mourn into repentance: 2 Cor 7:9-10 Paul says “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” In Acts 11: 18 “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life”. Repentance is a gift and proper mourning - not regret, not self-condemnation - leads us to repentance and transformation.

                                                            ii.      Mourning invites fellowship with the spirit: It is not the mourning itself that makes us happy, but when we mourn in the spirit, we have fellowship with the spirit - the spirit of comfort. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Isaiah 66:2 “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”  Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


    1. What do we mourn for?

                                                              i.      Our own sin - Mourning is not just a doorway for unbelievers to enter into salvation. (Illustration - Gym membership) This passage describes primarily, the life of a Christian and not the world.  We need to mourn as a people who ourselves are not wholly sanctified. (illustration - Heart of worship)  In the late 1990s, one worship leader stood on a stage with no sound system and sang his song of mourning - I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made when it’s all about you. The song Heart of worship became an anthem for a whole generation who said, hey, I’ve not been living right. I need to set my heart right before God. Luke 18: 11-14 “ The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

                                                            ii.      The world - Jesus, who was without sin, mourned as well. In Luke 19: 41 “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it”; He mourned over the state of the city that was chosen and loved by the Father. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus – He did not mourn because Lazarus was dead, because he knew he was going to raise him up – he mourned for the state of man and the effect of sin. It was a spiritual mourning. It sounds very poetic when we sing in a song break my heart for what breaks yours - but when was the last time that your heart was broken over the concerns of the Lord? We need to mourn for our own sins and the sins and state of the world.


    1. How do we mourn?

                                                              i.      We don't make a show of it - The mourning of the spirit is done with fasting and prayer and Jesus gives very specific instructions on how to fast and pray Matthew 6: 16-18 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

                                                            ii.      Mourn until you are comforted - 1 Samuel 1:16-18 “ Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favour in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” It’s uncomfortable to mourn - it feels bad, but let's not be too quick to make ourselves feel good. For me, it is entertainment and shopping. Disarm the thing that you run to when you want to feel good. Mourn and stay uncomfortable until you are comforted by the Holy Spirit - because then we are able to comfort others with the same comfort we have received. We don't mourn as those who have no hope.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.


Take the opportunity during our 3 days of fasting and prayer to set time apart to mourn in the spirit over your own sins and the sins of the world and we will experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit.


2.      Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

Submission leads to succession - The Greek word Praus which is translated as meek refers to being gentle, humble, considerate, and courteous. In fact, Jesus referred to himself in Matt 11:29 as Praus (gentle) and lowly in heart. Since Jesus is Praus he calls us to be praus - meek.


    1. What does it mean to be meek?

                                                              i.      Not an inflated opinion of ourselves - To be meek means to have an accurate estimation of ourselves and others. Closely connected to mourning - if we cannot see and mourn over our own sin, we will have an inflated opinion of ourselves. (illustration - Instagram filters) Meekness is not a personality trait but a heart attitude. All of us are called to be meek.  Phil 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” How about people who are lower than you in socio-economic status, in righteousness, inexperience… this is how - we wash their feet. Serve those who are below you because when we serve, we get to know their stories.

                                                            ii.      Not a doormat - Meek does not mean weak. it does not mean to give up all power and just be a yes-person. That is false humility - to not take responsibility for ourselves and blame others for the state we are in. meekness does not mean a lack of confidence - it means having a rightly placed confidence - not in our flesh but in God. In fact, all the great leaders we see in the bible were mighty meek men - it’s not an oxymoron. Not only is meekness a quality of great leaders, but it is a qualification for leadership in the church - 1 Tim 3:2-3 “ Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, ..., respectable, hospitable, able to teach...not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” Leadership requires that we take ownership for our own selves and our decisions, while still maintaining a posture of meekness and gentleness. Consider Stephen - the great martyr who saw Jesus himself welcoming him into heaven as he gave up his life for the gospel - his assignment was not preaching to thousands but to be a server for the Greek widows at meals.


    1. How do we develop meekness? - These are spiritual disciplines that we cannot do in our flesh, so we need the holy spirit to grow in meekness. ( come to relational dynamics seminar this evening to equip yourselves with some practical dimensions of how to live this powerful yet meek Christian lifestyle)

                                                              i.      Sober judgement of ourselves - Romans 12:13 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned”. Our attitudes are shaped by our thoughts. Meekness, which is an attitude of the heart, is developed by thinking of ourselves with sober judgment. (Illustration of recording myself singing)

                                                            ii.      Do not promote ourselves- Trust that God in due time will grant you the very thing you seek. Matthew 20:20-22 “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” Instead our attitude must be like that of David - the anointed king -disregarded by his father and despised by his king, being chased to kill and driven away from his own country, his land, his inheritance by the current king Saul, still submitting, still honouring him as he says in Ps 16:6 “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” Ps. 37:11But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.


    1. How do the meek inherit the earth?

Story of the prodigal son - he demanded what is rightfully his - he followed all the self-help books and went and got what was his. And then he squandered it on reckless living. It might not mean a severed relationship with the father, but the inheritance once squandered is not coming back.


Instead we need to adopt the posture of Jesus as he did in the garden of Gethsemane - the very location of this sermon. In Luke 22:39-46 “39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives ... and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground”.


Philippians 2: 5-11 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” This is the example we are to follow as followers of Jesus.

Let’s pray. 

   Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service.  Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org. 


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