This week the blog is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of The Christian Manifesto by Alistair Begg. In the book, Alistair unpacks Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain from Luke 6, encouraging Christians to live a radically different life that upends the world’s values and philosophies. Readers will see that they are called to a lifestyle that is counterintuitive and countercultural, yet one that God blesses with true meaning and impact. You can purchase The Christian Manifesto here.
How do you enjoy life at its very best?
Advertisers, of course, claim that they know the answer. Every commercial is seeking to make us feel discontent with how things are, in order to convince us that a better life will be found by buying what it’s selling. Politicians claim that they know the answer too. Every political address is asking us to trust that that person or party can put things right, and is trying to assure us that a better life will be found in voting for what they’re offering.
At times, commercials and political speeches both point us back to a bygone era—the nostalgic impulse—when (if we squint, and forget the problems that existed at that time) everything was better: when our lives were purer or our hearts were lighter or our country was greater. At other times, they point us forward to the future and invite us to dream of how, if only we buy this or vote for that, all will soon be well.
So, amid the blizzard of offers and promises, to what or to whom are you looking to deliver life at its very best? I want to take you to a description and a promise that you will never see in a commercial or hear from a politician. In this book, we’re going to look at what can be helpfully seen as a “Christian manifesto.” A manifesto is a public declaration or proclamation issued by a monarch or head of state, or by a representative of a company or organization. Here is a manifesto for the Christian life, straight from the lips of Jesus, as he gathered both his followers and those who were thinking about becoming his followers on “a level place”—on a plain—and taught them one of his most famous sermons, found in Luke’s Gospel and known as the “Sermon on the Plain.” It is a manifesto that is not oriented towards the political arena, but towards the relational and individual one.
At 725 words (in the ESV English translation), this manifesto is less than a third of the length of the average US presidential inaugural address. It is therefore, of course, not exhaustive—it does not cover every aspect of how Christ’s people can live in a way that pleases him—but it is foundational. And in the first four words of his sermon, Jesus announces that what follows will be his answer to that question of where the best life is to be found:
“Blessed are you who…”
To learn more about Alistair’s new book, visit thegoodbook.com/manifesto.