Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Mystery and Mastery of the Sermon on the Mount

this is an upload from my blog

Read the Sermon on the Mount lately? It is that frustrating and poignant part of the gospels that comforts and terrifies, humbles and encourages, rips and heals …. All at the same time.

It begins with the ‘Beatitudes’ (Latin Beatus- ‘Happy’ or ‘Blessed’) in Matthew 5 and ends with the story of building houses on sand in Matthew 7.

My first encounter with the sermon as a whole was back in 1988. I was newly married, had just accepted a job as a youth minister, had begun the process of seminary, and picked up Martin Lloyd Jones classic commentary, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”.

I took each chapter as a morning devotion and poured over the pages. I remember wearing out a yellow hi-liter pen and felt the very core of my soul being touched by the words of Christ.

Here I am 21 years later…. New job, new town, 3 children, Bible teacher ….. and I still am amazed at the eternal concepts and colossal challenges.

No matter what phase I am in spiritually, the sermon says something to me.

When I am weighed down by sin ….. ‘blessed are those who mourn’.

When I see myself as a failure….. ‘blessed are the poor in spirit’.

When I fall short in my desire to serve…..’WHEN you give to the needy’.

When I feel really good about my walk……’ not everyone who says Lord, Lord’

When I condemn other for their lack of faith or zeal….. ‘ do you not notice the log?’

The sermon encourages me to fast, pray, serve, study, give and hold fast to God’s timeless laws. It digs down deep, into the very core of my being to check attitudes of the heart and motivations.

Each year, I get to re-introduce this wonderful passage to seniors in our school. The class is called, “Biblical Principles”, designed by brother Steve Wilson. It challenges the students to anticipate the ‘next 10 years of their life’. Eventually we will discuss dating, marriage, college roommates, time management, finances, job interviews, health care, depression, addiction, worship…. But before we do, we review the fundamental principals of faith, gospel, and a little doctrine.

What the students never know is that I have to review these things also. The repetition is good.
This year in particular, the Beatitudes drove deep this year. I had the students re-write them in paraphrase form. Here is what I wrote.

“Congratulations! You finally realize what a loser you are! And you are finally sad about that! Good for you, because I can help you now. Be gentle, submit to my will and it will be great! Use that discontentment with life to drive you to Me- I will fill that hunger with Myself! And now that you see my forgiveness, PLEASE, give others a break. Learn to hate sin, it is serious. It hides Me from you. Put it off and seek Me more. Take the energy and time to help people. Restore them to Me - reconcile them to others. This is the work of my son! You know that people will not understand and some may hate you for this. But keep it up! There is a great reward… both now and forever!”

Will I still be in this…. 20 years from now? I hope so.

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