How to be a Happy Christian in the World Today
A message from Luke 6:20-26.
- There are a lot of passages that seem far removed from today’s world, but this one is very close to reality.
- Passage is Luke’s shorter account of the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6:20-49. The longer one is Matthew 5.
- The audience is: Jesus’ disciples. How many disciples did Jesus have? Vs. 17 (Not just the twelve)
- I’m not going to use the word “disciples), going to call them: students.
- Jesus has spent the night in prayer, and the day healing the sick
- And Jesus lifts his eyes to see his students, and speaks to them.
He presents a contrast in the opening verses which is a different contrast from Matthew 5. In Matthew 5, it’s all about “Blessings” and laws that believers used to hear were updated to what they were now supposed to follow. In Luke 6, Jesus contrasts “Blessings” with “Woes.” In both, he is addressing his students (Again, not the 12, but all of those who are following Him, and learning from him.)
Now, since we are followers of Jesus who get to listen in on Jesus training the twelve, we can place ourselves right in this audience alongside the listeners of His day, and we can hear that Jesus is speaking directly to us who are seeking to follow Him and be like Him.
Here are the two lists side by side.
I did not realize that Jesus was talking to his students when he gave both lists. As a Christian in America, I see myself on the side of the list I do NOT want to be on. We spend so much time accumulating wealth, serving our own satisfaction, our entertainment, and the good opinion of men, when all we’re doing is securing deep pain for ourselves in the future. In living for the present, we sacrifice the eternal future God promises to those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, ostracized, ridiculed, and cast aside because of Jesus.
Is Jesus saying that wealth, satisfaction, entertainment, and good reputation are evil things? No. Neither is being poor, hungry, weeping, and hated and ridiculed necessarily good things. He’s pointing out two paths of those who follow Him. One path involves being comfortable, worldly, unbroken, and well thought of, the other is living in want, poverty, sorrow, and ignominy for Jesus’ sake.
Some I could see may start to object. Can’t I serve Jesus and still be comfortable? You can, but you miss out on over-exuberant joy. You miss out on the deep laughter that comes from honest hearts, you miss out on the true satisfaction that smells of eternity, and you miss out on the Kingdom of Heaven. And that is a tragedy of which Jesus said, “Deep pain to you.”
But why can’t I be happy now, and later? Why can’t I enjoy my comfort now, and still be exuberantly happy later?
What? Have you forgotten your mission? Why are you here anyway? You are here to represent God on earth. Does God accumulate wealth for himself, or does God make himself poor so that others can be rich? Is God deeply satisfied with his own food, or does God forgo His own satisfaction, so that others can have theirs? Does God seek his own entertainment, or does God weep for those who are in anguish and agony? Is God well thought of by the world, or do people cast Him aside like a crumpled up trash-wrapper? Which God do you serve? You’re made in His image, so why don’t you look like him?
Jesus said in this passage, “A student is not above his teacher; but everyone after he has been fully trained will be like his teacher.” This is why the students of Jesus in America today are in such a sorry state: because we have ceased growing to look like our teacher.
Either, you will spend your time, resources, and livelihood–which means poverty, hungry, weeping, and ridicule– for something that will last forever –God’s work to bring about good in this world and the life to come. Or you will use your time, resources, livelihood to procure something that in the end will mean nothing. You’ll feel comfortable now, but deep in your heart you will know that you wasted your time.
Remember what Jesus said to his students. You are the salt of the earth. You’re the only thing making this world flavorful. Don’t give up your saltiness.
Illustration: 2 pretzels passed out at the beginning.
This is the world with you wealthy, satisfied, entertained, and well thought of. (Eat the saltless pretzel)
This is the world with you being poor, hungry, weeping, and rejected. (Eat the salted pretzel)
- Confess your sins to God and cease from them.
- Pursue Him devotionally in prayer.
- Obey His commands in whatever situation you are.
- Keep doing this until you have found your joy in Him again.