The Sermon on the Mount is, without question, the best sermon ever. And it is, without question, the most quoted sermon ever. Everyone, from Gandhi to President Obama, has quoted the Sermon on the Mount. This week, we come to one of the most quoted sayings of Jesus about turning the other cheek. You’ve no doubt used the expression yourself, but do you really know what it means? Where does one even find the self-control to turn the other check when attacked and insulted by another? It is only out of love that we are able to do this.
Jesus calls His disciples to an outrageous standard of love, as made apparent in this week’s passage. Christians are called to “love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.” As familiar as we are with those admonitions, I wonder how many of us are willing to respond, in such away, to those who try and take us down and those who try and bring harm to us because of our faith. That sort of response is not the way we humans are normally wired. We are wired to fight back or flee, rather than to respond with the kind of love Jesus commands. So how is it remotely possible to love like Jesus requires of His disciples? It is only because of God’s outrageous love that Christ’s disciples love others outrageously.
You’ve probably heard someone say, “If you’re looking for the perfect church, don’t join or you’ll ruin it!” That’s both funny and true. There is no such thing as the perfect church, at least not this side of glory. Yet Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, is encouraging those in the kingdom of heaven (His disciples) to strive for perfect obedience. He exhorts them, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s easy for Jesus to say, because He is perfect and without sin. But you and I are not.
Don’t let that discourage you. Because of their identity in Christ, His disciples are advancing in perfection in the kingdom of heaven. They are advancing in faithulness and advancing in their faith in Jesus. So, altough this week’s passage might discourage you, because of past or current sins or because of past or current hurts, please come and find hope in Jesus. Don’t move backward but move forward with hope and healing. God is greater than whatever you face.
Is Christianity a “religion?” How would you answer? I think most American Christians would say it is not. A popular YouTube video, with over 30 million views, is titled, “Why I hate religion but love Jesus.” That certainly fits the sentiment of most believers. As good as it may sound, is that true? Can you hate religion and still love Jesus? It seems that’s not an option, according to Jesus’ own words, as we’ll see this week in our continuing journey through His Sermon on the Mount. Christianity is an inside-out religion, founded by Jesus and followed by His disciples. Christianity is about more than religion, but certainly not less.
So join us this Sunday at 10:30 AM, as we journey through the The Sermon on the Mount and worship our Lord together in the body of Christ.