Finishing With a Foundation
If you have been following closely with our study of the Sermon on the Mount, you are aware that we have come to the close of our study. As I have said before, it’s always a bittersweet thing for me to let go of a series. I always learn more, and I pray that the Lord does a remarkable work in our church as a result of our pursuit and His grace. Have you taken time over each chapter to reflect upon what the Spirit has shown you there? Have you thought about the over-arching lessons that God has emphasized with this study?
With the return of college football, I have thought recently about what Jesus teaches in this sermon as it relates to offense and defense. For me personally, the most emphatic offense that I gained from studying this sermon comes from the wake-up call I received. I am called to trust Christ and obey Him in all this. I am not to compartmentalize righteousness into an area that is easy for me, but to ask Him for transformational power to live a kingdom lifestyle entirely. I view this offense in terms of application going forward. Trust and obedience are what I apply for becoming more like Christ—moving the ball forward, so to speak.
I was also convicted by the whole sermon. I tend to camp on a pet characteristic or passage and leave it there. How many of us have only been familiar with the Beatitudes portion of the sermon? May God keep us from being one-issue Christians. The wisdom of the gospel affects every area of our lives, not just the ones we are passionate about. Obedience is thoroughly called for in this message and is essential for every disciple. In a culture full of lightning rods, I can’t be lured into caring about only one aspect of discipleship, or the process is out of balance.
On the defensive side of the field, I have a renewed commitment to absolutely deny the world any credibility with defining who Jesus is in character as well as instruction. I feel that the church in America has become so biblically illiterate that we have allowed the culture to define what Christlikeness and Kingdom lifestyles should look like. The overarching lesson Jesus teaches here is that God reigns supremely over His Kingdom, that Jesus has come to gather those who will reside in that Kingdom, and there is a lifestyle that is consistent with citizenship. Disciples develop discernment. There is righteousness and unrighteousness. We examine our own lives, and we do not make excuses for ourselves or our unbelieving culture concerning the truth Jesus reveals about us.
In the same defensive vein, I must be careful of confusing obedience with legalism. It’s easy to put the label of legalism on things that are difficult to obey. If I don’t want to obey a command of Jesus, or confess my poverty of spirit in a certain area, it’s too easy to say “Oh well, I don’t want to be legalistic about things.” Legalism, the practice of outward behaviors for show that does not determine our character, is certainly to be guarded against, but there is the obedient pursuit of genuine behavior in this sermon that displays a true citizenship of God’s Kingdom.
As we close this series of messages, I’d like you to begin preparing for our next study which starts in 2 weeks. First, you can take a look at the “What We Believe” page on our website and review our doctrinal statement. Take it paragraph by paragraph with some reflection on the passages mentioned, and you will be primed. Secondly, and no less important, be thinking about the opportunity to work on your own personal foundation by being a part of a Disciple Group. Current groups as well as new groups will be forming to further discuss the content studied in the upcoming series. So be on the lookout for that opportunity to sign up for a group.
Thanks again for your faithful return to the mountain. I pray your time at the feet of Jesus produces the same results for you as it did for the earliest disciples.