Many of us grow up thinking of God as a righteous judge who is out to get them the moment they mess up. Knowing we are human is to know that we can’t be perfect. That means that it’s only a matter of time before God gets mad at us and condemns us. It creates stress on those who think they can overcome temptation with will power alone, and apathy on those who know they can never measure up. Legalism chokes the life out of Christians and creates fear. That fear is used to persuade people into putting on a facade that everything is ok and that they aren’t struggling with anything. It creates a Church who can no longer find healing because they can’t confess their sins one to another.
When Jesus walked this earth, He challenged the legalistic Pharisees constantly. He pointed out their hypocrisy and shed light on how they used legalistic teaching to stay in power. They hated Him for it, but the people loved it. His teachings were authoritative and directed at helping people to know God. He had compassion on the masses, spoke in language they could understand and crowds followed Him wherever He went. While He is a righteous judge, He is also compassionate and loving. He blessed people wherever He went, not based on their status or financial value, but based on their humanity. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 marked a shift in how we view God. His blessings are available to everyone, no just a select few. Read this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount and think about how God has and is blessed you because you’re you.
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.
Matthew 5:3-11 NLT