Jesus gave one of His most important sermons on a mountain top with no special lighting, no amplified sound systems, no video screens, no live band or cushioned seats. Yet, this one sermon was crucial in changing the thoughts and behaviors of a multitude of generations of those seeking the Kingdom of God.
It is here Jesus taught a whole new way of approaching life. Now it just seems right, to me, that the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for doing right are blessed; but, surprisingly, He taught that the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are considered “blessed” as well. And here is another astounding statement: those who are reviled, persecuted, and lied about because of their love for Him should be exceedingly glad because their reward will be exceedingly great! That is definitely food for thought.
Jesus taught that His followers are to be salt and light…both of these influence the way we perceive our experiences. My influence and your influence generate a difference. Our lights must shine and our saltiness enhance for the benefit of another person’s life. When this happens, people will notice the difference and give God the glory for it. Jesus wants us to make our impact. We are uniquely created to make a unique difference. No one is irrelevant.
Jesus stressed that being angry with a fellow Christian without cause was worse than committing murder and calling this same brother or sister a fool was worthy of going to Hell. He knew the importance of having a right heart. He knew that it would still be our inclination to get into these types of situations and He gave us instructions for maneuvering through this type of scenario – reconcile the problem as soon as is possible. Make things right even before giving any kind of offering to Him!
Jesus loved His followers so much that He even addressed one of the hard issues – adultery. He revealed the secret power of this sin by exposing the location of the root of the offense…in the heart . Even if someone doesn’t show the outward signs of physically taking part in an adulterous affair, Jesus warns that even toying with it in one’s thoughts is damaging and addictive. He wants us to do what’s right in our dealings with others, whether it is in our thoughts or in our actions. His is more concerned with our righteous attitude than our physical well-being.
Jesus marvels the people with this outline of seemingly upside down conduct: turn the other check, give more than is required if sued, make the extra effort, and give to those who request to borrow something. He teaches us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who use and persecute us.
If you and I will take His teaching to heart, we will be identified as our Heavenly Father’s child as we pursue the likeness of God which is what He encourages us to do – on purpose. This is what sets us apart from those who are not Kingdom Heirs. This way of life is definitely an attention getter. Are you up for the challenge?