Over the last few weeks, our life group has been diving into the Sermon on the Mount. There are a ton of great messages we get from it: don’t judge, don’t worry or be anxious, and of course, we have the Lord’s Prayer. There are, however, a lot of difficult teachings in there as well: love your enemies, be peacemakers, and equating hate and lust to murder and adultery. There’s one idea that seems to be a common thread throughout the entire sermon even though Jesus doesn’t say it outright. It is something that our group has talked a lot about and it is contrary to every influence we have in our society today.
In America we are proud and thankful for the many privileges and freedoms that we have: freedom of speech, and the right to worship whomever (or whatever) we choose. We should be proud of our freedoms! There is also this ideology that we must fight for our rights, and if our rights are threatened or in danger, we must do anything and everything to ensure that we keep those rights, so that no one can take them away from us. After all, no one wants to be a pushover, right? We have to stick up for what’s ours and defend it until our dying breath. Many times we are fighting battles before an issue has even arisen. We make sure our statements are perfectly worded and our actions irrefutable (from all possible angles) to deter a possible negative response. We don’t want to boast about our actions, yet we are still making sure our actions and intentions are known to “fend off personal attacks”. It sounds exhausting, right? How much time do we put into “self-preservation”, instead of time into the security of God? Are we so focused on our defense that we’ve lost sight of our call? It’s my belief that we all struggle with this to a degree. God knew this would be the struggle of our day, and I would guess it was a struggle back then. That’s what makes the Sermon on the Mount so profound. Jesus is taking the very things we think are well-intended, and flipping them.
If we truly digest the Sermon on the Mount, taking to heart the things Jesus had to say, we would see this teaching of Jesus goes against our natural way of thinking. I think John the Baptist sums it up best when he said “He must become greater; I must become less.” The Sermon on the Mount speaks to how people in the Kingdom of God should live. It was very controversial to Jesus’ listeners and it is still so today. I will leave you with one last verse from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and let you chew on what it means for you and your life.
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?
I Corinthians 6:7-9