Recently I have been spending some time in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Putting it mildly, it is a challenging portion of scripture. And then I started reading Skye Jethani’s little book, What if Jesus was Serious? (I highly recommend it.)
His contention is that those words penned in the beginning of Matthew’s gospel are indeed meant to be taken seriously. Christ is not kidding when He tells us to pray for our enemies, turn the other cheek and go a second mile. He is not kidding when He declares us to be a city set on a hill that should be bright and visible for all to see. He is not making suggestions, He is declaring how a Christian ought to behave.
But we aren’t behaving that way. It is crushing to know that “Evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general” (Michael Horton).
Most believers think that sermon was just a guideline for how we should act. Most of us look at those principles as if they were some moral recommendations. And we quickly assert that it is impossible to live that way.
But “if we want the culture to take Jesus more seriously, maybe we should try it first” (Skye Jethani).
So maybe this week we should take some time to read and reread Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6. In our own words, maybe we should jot down some of the instructions (no matter how difficult they sound). After we have made our list, maybe we should highlight and focus on just 2 or 3.
Here are just a few to grapple with:
Pray for those who mistreat you
Give to everyone who asks of you
Do not do your acts of righteousness in front of others
Forgive those who sin against you
Fast in secret
You can’t serve God and money
In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…
There really is a tension between praising Jesus on Sunday and actually obeying Him throughout our week. So, let’s ask the Lord for grace and strength, and get serious about His instructions!