Today we’ll pause our regular devotionals and read a series written by my friend, Pastor Pilgrim Benham.
Chances are you have heard of the Tour de France, the famous bicycle race in Europe—but have never heard of the worldʼs shortest bicycle race in India. Hereʼs why this race is different:
All of the racers line up at the starting line, ready to go. Theyʼve got their stretchy riding pants, helmets, water bottles, numbers on their backs, even corporate sponsors!
The starting pistol goes off and the racers jump onto their bikes. But nobody goes anywhere. They all stay put. You see, the object of this race is to see who can go the shortest distance possible within the specified time limit. Racers are disqualified if their bike tips over or if their feet touch the ground. The cyclists inch forward just enough to keep their bikes balanced. They canʼt go backward.
At the end of the race, when the gun goes off, the cyclists who have gone the farthest are the losers. The racer closest to the starting line—which, in this case, is also the finish line—is the winner. A little ironic, right?
Some things in life are like that, they are just backwards! The kingdom of heaven is like that: it is a backwards kingdom compared to this world. This backwards kingdom was explained by Jesus through a teaching called, “The Sermon on the Mount”. He begins His sermon with what we call the Beatitudes. These are less about things we do—and more about things we intrinsically are as citizens of heaven—as recipients of the Gospel. Someone once said that if you wanted to get to know the human race, just take the Beatitudes, turn them upside down/reverse them, and you would get a good idea of what the human race is all about. I couldnʼt agree more.
The Beatitudes are a stark contrast—a breath of fresh air—in a world of selfish, prideful, wealthy, power-hungry pollution. Godʼs kingdom is a kingdom of paradoxes. The Bible tells us that the only way to save your life is by losing it. To become strong you have to be weak. To truly live you actually have to die, to self. Look at Matthew chapter 5, starting in verse 5, and notice how Jesus describes the Christian. They are marked by at least seven characteristics.
Though these are not exhaustive, they are instructive:
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousnessʼ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
From tomorrow we will look at one characteristic each day with Pastor Pilgrim.
Pilgrim was born to two Christian hippie parents in the late 70‘s. At age 4 he made a decision for Christ and repented of his deep 4-year stint of sin and depravity. Raised in a Christian home, Pilgrim learned of and followed Jesus through his childhood and teen years. In youth group at age 13 Pilgrim made a profession of faith and desire to follow Jesus into full-time ministry.