Who do you follow?

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Shout out to Jace and Jenae Longenecker for actually being peacemakers throughout our whole family vacation last week!

Hi Everyone! My name is Jewel Gingerich Longenecker and I’m a LOG adult. I loved being on Thursday team last fall and getting to know all of you who were on it. I already miss all the graduates! It was the first time I had been on a LOG team without one of my own kids (Jace graduated in 2016 and Jenae in 2014) so I wasn’t sure how it would go. But duh, it’s LOG, so of course I had a wonderful time!

So, I’m curious about something. Have you, as a LOGger, ever thought about the idea that the most important thing about being a Christian is following Jesus? I know it might sound obvious but how often do you think about it that way?

Jesus was God in a body. So if we really want to understand God, we need to pay attention to who Jesus was, what he taught, and how he lived his life.

I don’t just mean “follow,” as in “like” his pages or read his messages. I mean follow, as in, to pay close attention to what he said and did and try as best you can to imitate it. I know it probably sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve observed that for some reason, many Christians don’t give Jesus’ words and teachings and life as much attention as you would think.

If you want to get a clear picture of who Jesus was and what he believed and taught, a good place to start is the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11). These verses tell us Jesus’ definitions of happiness, the good life, success, and true power. 

They show us why and how Jesus did what he did. They point out that Jesus often refused to go along with those in power and how they normally got things done. They help us to understand why Jesus reached out to people that his society did not value.

You could say that the Beatitudes put words to Jesus’ actions. 

If we want to be Jesus-followers, all of this matters every day. These questions of “What is success?” and “How should I spend my time?” and “Who should I give my attention to?” are questions we still wrestle with, pretty much all the time. 

One important thing to know when reading the Beatitudes is that Matthew, the Gospel writer, uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” as an alternative for “kingdom of God.” Matthew wrote for a Jewish audience, and since the Jewish people avoided saying the name of God outright out of reverence to God, Matthew used “kingdom of heaven” rather than “kingdom of God” most of the time. This is important because it means that when Matthew talks about the kingdom of heaven he’s talking about what it means to live our lives with God as king. We normally think of “kingdom of heaven” as a reward we’ll receive after we die, but that is way too limiting. We should ask instead, “What does it mean to live with God as king in my life today?”

The Beatitude I was given for this blog, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9), is one way Jesus described life in God’s kingdom. He said, if you want to receive and live in God’s love, be a peacemaker. Those who work for peace between people, he said, are living out God’s “heart” and desires. Others who watch peacemakers in action will notice that they are behaving like God’s children, because they are behaving like their divine Parent, the source of all love.

When have you been a peacemaker? What does it mean to be a peacemaker in your home, school, church and at work? Are peacemakers quiet and passive? (Hint: Was Jesus quiet and passive? Read the Gospel of Matthew to find out!) In what ways are you making peace like Jesus made peace?

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” says Jesus. “They are behaving like God!” May this be a challenge we all take seriously as we seek to be like Jesus and the God he embodied. 

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