Sermon on the Mount
Early in His ministry Jesus delivered the most famous sermon ever, the Sermon on the Mount. What Jesus said to those listening that day seemed almost like up was down, right was left and white was black. Jesus taught about subjects such as prayer, justice, care for the needy, handling the religious law, divorce, judging other people, salvation and much more. What He said didn’t coincide with what most of the listeners had thought about those subjects. Jesus made it clear that His followers should live in a noticeably different way than other people.
The Best News the World Has Ever Heard
Much has been written about Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. It’s a guide on how we should pray. The prayer divides into two parts–we recognize the greatness of God and then we recognize our dependency upon Him. The first three requests ask God to accomplish His will in our world and reveal His purposes to everyone. The second three requests acknowledge our need for forgiveness and strength. We live in the kingdom of the earth, but we need to focus on the best news the world has ever heard and focus on the Kingdom of Heaven!
All in the Kingdom
God created us as incomplete human beings and we spend our lives searching for something to complete us. There is nothing in this world that will ever come close to satisfying us. Money won’t do it and neither will material possessions or relationships. Only a relationship with God our Father can fill us up and give us the peace we crave. He reaches out to fill our hearts, but we must extend our hearts to meet His. Let God pour Himself into your heart. It could be just the thing you’ve been looking for!
Have you ever had someone “falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me [Jesus]?” (Matthew 5:11b NIV) In other words, have you ever experienced persecution because of your belief in God or do only missionaries and ministers serving in foreign countries suffer this way? There are individuals in America and even here in First Christian who are oppressed because they believe in Christ and share their beliefs. Are you one of them? The Bible tells you to be glad because “great is your reward in heaven.”
Salt that stays inside the shaker does nothing to enhance the flavor of food. Light that is hidden is of no value to people who are searching. Jesus makes a clear point to people who choose to follow Him. Their approach to life will be different. The difference will be positive and noticeable during interactions with others. The result will be more people attracted to the enhanced life and a clearer path that comes through following God’s plan.
When Christians Get it Wrong
As Jesus instructs us about the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17-20), at no time does he call us to make additions, create requirements, or make us gatekeepers for grace and mercy. Yet sometimes we stumble and create our own set of laws, rules and hoops to jump through. We sometimes want to say, “Do these additional things and you will be closer to our Savior and a worthier Christian.” Jesus gives a simple, though difficult role, and does so with clear guidance, “…whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)