"Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them." Matthew 5:1-2
Matthew 5-7; Luke 6:1-22
What does your church proclaim and teach?
Key point: The Church must model and teach that we can learn and trust and rely on our Lord. Material things will not satisfy us. Things of this world may satisfy us for a little while; but, the things of this world will never fill us, and we will always be longing for more--never satisfied. True spiritual nourishment is not from a show or cheap words, or the charisma of a leader; rather, it comes from God's Word and our spiritual growth through worship, discipleship, service, and prayer.
This "Sermon on the Mount" is the primary pathway for how the church must be in community to one another and the world to give God the glory. As the Gospel shows our Lord's commitment to us through being Himself a Suffering Servant, perhaps we can be the Church triumphant that proclaims the Cross and the blood as we exercise the hearts of true servants in our response to the hurts and cries of those around us.
Too many of our churches are run as if we were in total control and we reign supreme. We think, "This is my church, I want my way…". We become too busy chasing signs, fads, trends, numbers, and sides.
The quintessential Sermon from the Master Teacher Himself is the "Sermon on the Mount."
The Christian Manifesto contains the core essentials of character, thought and attitude of the Christian life. This is presented after Jesus reveals Himself as the ministry of the Kingdom of God begins. Jesus was not just sharing wisdom and facts; He reveals and shares Himself. He is the model for the perfection of Christian living and the mirror to show our fallen state and need for grace. This Sermon tells us how we are to behave and live; it tells what we are to do and be in the world. It is ethics at its apex and a manual for our lives. It is the display case for the Gospel for us to emulate in servant-hood and commitment so as to stay on God's path in our personal lives as well as collectively as the Body of Christ.
We have to see that the Gospel is about relationships and the impacting, redeeming power of our Lord.
It is not about traditions, culture, or a show. Christianity is cross-cultural and deeply impacting; it is more concerned with people than with customs. It is not about easy belief; rather, it is about the impact of our Lord going deeply within us, so He is displayed and deployed outside of us. Here is Jesus calling for us to cross our social and personal barriers to pursue people with a faith that is real, deep, and strong. Jesus transcended culture to minister to a person who would not have been associated with or helped. In so doing, He cut across strict cultural barriers of race and gender, pointing us to the unity and impact of the Gospel.
God calls us to be earnest, that is, to be pursuing a serious, deep-rooted and determined faith.
It is a call to persist in our faith and determination, regardless of obstacles--physical limitations, spiritual depression, spiritual warfare, or our circumstances. If everything came to us instantly, there would be no growth, no appreciation, no maturity, and no faith. Faith requires resistance and struggle to make it flourish and grow.
The title beatitude means "supreme blessedness or happiness," a deep joy, not superficial happiness from material things. They are precise proclamations full of prime meaning and purpose of Christian living. The point is that real character qualities come from the inward love we have for our Lord that we desire to spill upon others. The world sees character as being strength in personality, wealth, power, and looks. The Christian must never see others with the world's counterfeit guidelines!
The word blessed or Happy refers to an emotional state of satisfaction, well-being and contentment that results from being approved by God, by our fulfilling of our duty. It is a future promise and enjoying God's special favor and His Grace working in us. What would be the reasons and benefits? Only in Christ can we succeed in pleasing God!
- Psalm 1 gives us a template of how to please God, which Jesus clearly had in mind (because of language use, style, and syntax) as He gave this discourse. It seems Jesus was answering the main questions people would have about the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Who would qualify and live there? We cannot enter on our own strength, works, or merits! We have to be paupers in spirit and will, which means our will must be yielded to His!
- Grace is obvious, as this is our fuel, power, and motivation, and the Holy Spirit is our guide!
- The inner attitude that produces character is the main ingredient that spills to others from our receiving of grace. In addition, this is our purpose on earth (John 7:38; 1 Cor. 13: 4-8; Gal 5: 22-23; 2 Pet. 1:5-11), where attitude and grace all work together synergistically!
- Being content in life can only happen by being right with God!
The Sermon on the Mount is the primary pathway for our purpose and meaning in life once we are saved.
Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promise! The theme of His discourse was the "Kingdom of Heaven" and deals with internal motivations and attitudes that create outward actions. A righteous person is controlled by Biblical spiritual principles that give direction versus carnal or selfish motives. This was the principle phrase Jesus kept repeating as His main point (Isa. 40; Matt. 4:17; 23; 5:3; 10; 19; 20; 6:10; 33; 7:21).
- The content centered upon us as citizens of the Kingdom.
- Jesus' purpose was not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it!
- Jesus' sermon was the application of the Law over the various interpretations--our relation to God, Prayer, Materialism, Worry, and man's relation to our fellow man (Matt. 6:1-33; 7:1-12).
- Righteousness is the central aspect of inward obedience creating an outward character.
- Depiction of a real righteous person: Character, and being blessed because of it, is central (Matt. 5:3-12).
- The believers/citizens relation to the world as salt and light to be influencers and involved without becoming corrupted (Matt. 5:13-16).
- Righteousness versus sin and hypocrisy: Jesus contrasted the Law of Moses and traditions from the teachers to what is in our hearts as being the motivations for our behaviors (Matt. 5:17-48).
- How we treat each other. Not judging others. Hypocrisy is an evil sin! "The Golden Rule." God's Kingdom will be narrow and difficult (Matt. 7:13-14)!
What we do in our lifetime with the relationships, gifts, and opportunities we are given will echo throughout eternity! The goal is what is laid for us in eternity and is achieved by what we do along the way. Being real is doing good from a heart transformed, not just saying it with no inward or outward backing (Matt. 7:15-27).
For us today, we must realize that this sermon is relevant and for us.
It shows us God's requirements and models how we should be to God, to one another, and to others in the world. As Jesus clearly pointed out, our inward thoughts will affect our outward conduct (5:21-22; 27-28)!
Beloved, we will be unable to completely adhere to it. This is precisely why we have a Savior, why we need Our Lord, Jesus Christ and His grace, and the Holy Spirit working in us. However, our imperfection does not mean we give up and close the door on it! We are to keep it going. When we fall down, we get back up, and persevere to live this sermon in all aspects of our lives. If not, why bother being a Christian, let alone in leadership, as we would be for nothing! Remember, following this sermon does not save us, because it is only by what Christ has done for us on the cross by grace that saves us! However, this sermon is the fruit from the tree of our salvation, just as the Fruits of the Spirit are (Gal. 5:21-23)! They are the proof text that Christ has been made real in us (Rom. 8:1-11)!
When we abuse the Bible, or teach in error or draw attention to ourselves for showman sakes with pretentious pseudo miracles or pointless rhetoric we are behaving like Satan!
When we use it well, we are modeling Christ (2 Pet. 3:16). Satan seeks to get us to lose what God has given or has to offer. Our outlook has gone from truth to fiction, to causing harm! The way to spiritual maturity and the glory of our reward is not in finding shortcuts or shows. The way to spiritual maturity is through learning, experience, and overcoming adversities and always seeking the Lord. It is a long and difficult process (Acts 14:22; Rom. 2:7).
© 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/