Beatitudes help Christians become countercultural

Robert Smith says the women in his family taught him you never buy children’s clothes in the size they’re currently wearing — if you do they’ll grow out of them almost immediately.

“But if you buy an oversized outfit, the child will grow up into the clothes,” he said.

That’s what the Beatitudes represent — an oversized piece of clothing Christians are growing into, said Smith, the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham.

‘Growing into them’

Smith opened the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference in Birmingham on June 9 with an overview of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1–12). Over the rest of the conference — which had the theme Kingdom Character — other speakers focused on individual Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes “don’t fit us now, but the Spirit is growing us so we begin to fit them,” he said. “One of these days when we stand before Him and have been glorified and perfected we will fit them. We are becoming who we already are.”

Smith said the nine Beatitudes “interpenetrate” the nine fruits of the Spirit — they are directly related to each other. The attitudes of the Beatitudes are implanted to produce the fruit of the Spirit, he said. “It’s being before doing … ‘who I am’ before the imperative ‘what I do.’”

Good works do not produce salvation — salvation produces good works, Smith said. But they go hand in hand.

“God is working to develop from the inside what He’s already put in you,” he said. “God is developing and growing in you the attitudes and the fruit.”

The Holy Spirit is vital in this process, Smith said — He’s “not a luxury but a necessity.”

Facing the world

What Christians are becoming is countercultural — the Beatitudes “fly in the face of the world,” he said. “God has called us to be countercultural, peculiar, unique, different, so we stand out and face the world with a gospel that is not adulterated or mixed.” (Grace Thornton)