John Mann | Pastor
LaJunta Baptist Church, Springtown, TX
John is also Adjunct Professor of, and Ph.D. student in, Systematic Theology (SWBTS)
Currently I am preaching through the Sermon on the Mount in a series I have titled “Authentic: Living the Genuine Christian Life in a Disingenuous World.” I have preached through the Sermon on the Mount before, but this time seems different. Perhaps it is the rapidly changing world stage or the more subtle undercurrent of a yet-to-be fully realized societal change. Either way, every discerning Christian must admit that there is a transformation within the immediate environment that is going to aggressively test our strength (or weakness, as it may be).
Yesterday, in the third message of the series, we examined the second beatitude, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” After explaining how mourning is an experience that is directly correlated to the character of God, I sought to explain how Christian mourning is inherently different from non-Christian mourning. To put it simply, non-Christian mourning leads to despair while Christian mourning leads to action. I then proceeded to explain that Christian mourning manifests itself through four proper responses.
First, the Christian responds to mourning through intercession. This is the result of mourning over a fallen world that has normalized abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and addiction. The Christian who mourns does not let the attempted justification for these atrocities to lead them to despair; rather, they are driven to intercede through prayer and witness.
Second, the Christian responds to mourning through leadership. One of the realities that can prompt mourning in the heart of a dedicated Christian is the lack of seriousness that many professing Christians seem to invest in pursuing what they claim is the Ultimate Reality, namely, the Lord Christ. When exposed to a disingenuous church culture, the Christian may be tempted to despair over the state of many of the churches. However, true Christian mourning does not respond with despair — lest it contribute to the problem it laments.
Rather, Christians who mourn over the state of churches and Christians today are compelled to a demonstration of true Christian leadership. The devoted follower of Christ hears the continual echo of the voice of Joshua: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you shall serve. As for me and my house, we shall serve the LORD.” The Christian who mourns fears being in Laodicea more than he fears being on Patmos.
Third, the Christian who experiences true, biblical mourning responds through confession. The earnest believer recognizes that he is not the solution, but he is part of the problem. He wrestles with personal sin that inhibits his ability to serve to God in a meaningful way apart from the fullness of God’s grace toward him. In other words, every witness is a hypocrite. The Christian who dares to do anything in the name of Christ cannot escape the eerie compulsion of the Holy Spirit leading him to confess, “I am the chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). Indeed, he finds himself far more in need of Psalm 51 than he readily admits. Therefore, rather than puff himself up with self-righteousness, he confesses his inadequacies.
Finally, the Christian who mourns does so because he recognizes that there is a separation from God that manifests itself through an internal longing for the restoration of all things. Though he finds joy through watching children grow, a marriage develop, or a career blossom, there is an overriding reality that beckons him to remember that this world is not his home. He suffers from a perpetual plague of being homesick.
In a sense, the Christian who understands the second beatitude can be spotted as the one who has a simultaneous tear in his eye and smile on his face. In Christian mourning, sorrow and joy collide. He is sorrowful because he is not immune from tragedy. He is joyful because he knows the fullness of comfort is yet to come. So, let us mourn with hope. Our Comfort will come.