What would happen
if we actually lived as if Jesus was serious in his famous Sermon on the Mount? How would our lives change if we actually lived out Jesus’ teachings in those three chapters in Matthew? What kind of impact would the church have if we learned to “go the extra mile”, or “turn the other cheek”, or practice “enemy love” (Matt 5:39, 41, 44)?
The English poet G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) famously said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Many approach the Sermon on the Mount this way. They understand it to be a list of ideals that that are impossible to attain. They think the incredibly high standards only serve to remind us how much we suck and need help – a way of God rubbing our noses in the fact that we really don’t measure up.
While we do need grace (lots of it these days!), my hunch is that Jesus was actually serious (besides the hyperbole and humour he clearly used) about his teaching. He intended for his followers to actually give it a go. The crowds who had gathered to listen to him seem to agree. Matthew records that they were amazed because Jesus taught with real authority – quite unlike the religious teachers among them (Matt 7:28-29). Jesus was articulating truth about the Kingdom of Heaven and our role in it as we follow and obey him.
So, what would happen if we took Jesus’ teaching seriously? My guess is that we would have remarkably different lives, we would be a remarkably different church, and we would have a remarkable impact on our neighbourhood(s). My suspicion is that this is exactly what our world needs right now – Jesus followers who actually take Jesus at his word.
This is exactly what our world needs right now.
Over the next year we’re going on a deep dive to discover just what life in the Kingdom of God looks like as Jesus laid out in the Sermon on the Mount. We’re going to gather with the crowds to hear Jesus teach. We’re going to pay special attention to the areas the Holy Spirit is nudging us. We’re going to follow Jesus more closely in our life together as we follow the Spirit’s lead. There will be good stories to tell as a result.
Are you ready?!
We’ve divided the Sermon on the Mount into four parts (using Charles E Moore’s categories in “Following the Call: Living the Sermon on the Mount Together“):
Part 1 – Kingdom Character. This section is all about the kind of people who are blessed in the Kingdom of God. Known as the Beattitudes, Jesus flips common understandings upside-down.
Part 2 – Kingdom Commands. This section outlines some of Jesus famous re-framing of the law. He attempts here to get to the heart of the matter.
Part 3 – Kingdom Devotion. This section is about three acts of worship: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. It contains the Lord’s Prayer.
Part 4 – Kingdom Priorities. This section is a collection of wisdom and warnings.
1. Read it – a lot.
Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7. We will be using Matthew as our primary text, but Luke 6 also records what is referred to the “Sermon on the Plain”.
It will be helpful for you to read these passages regularly. Make them part of your regular devotional focus. Meditate on them. Chew them. Marinade. You get the idea.
2. Engage together.
I’d also like to encourage you to engage the scripture together. Whether that is in a weekly House Group, a Triad, or some other setting, this teaching is meant to be corporate. One resource that is particularly helpful and accessible is this book: What if Jesus was Serious?: a visual guide to the teachings of Jesus we love to ignore by Skye Jethani.
If you’re a House Group Leader, contact the office – we have a copy for you!
We begin Feb 2022.