Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beware the Sermon on the Mount

Some of us are trying the 3 Column approach to studying the bible, and we’re slowly working through the Sermon on the Mount.  Soon my articles here will be in-sync with the study I’m a part of, so people can understand what they’re reading and studying.  I hope all who find these articles will join a group or form a group and follow along.  I’ll put more on the website soon about how to start and run a three column group of your own. I hope to help you understand what Jesus was trying to say – and why he was saying it.  

But be forewarned: there’s no blessing in understanding it – the blessing comes from actually living it – doing it – obeying Jesus, not merely hearing his words! 

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he’s like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; then once he’s looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled worship in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  James 1:22-27
If your goal is merely to understand, you’ll find yourself in the same situation as “the Rich Young Ruler” (Matthew 19.16-29).  I hope you’ll open your bible and study this story carefully, because his story is really our story, too.  The following is a review of parts of the story, and how it fits together:

This successful young man was not only rich and powerful and still young – he was also obedient to all of God’s laws!  He was a success in every way.  Now in search of eternal life, he came to Jesus, who challenged him to give up the thing he valued most.  The result was that the man “went away sad.”  The rest of the story reveals that Jesus’ disciples understood this story was about more than just money – it’s about each of us giving up the things we value most.  When God asks us to sell all we have to buy the pearl of great price (Matthew 13.45-46), His message is as old as the Torah itself:
“You shall have no other gods before Me
The successful guy couldn't imagine life without money.  He relied on it, it kept his household fed, clothed and well-cared for.  The question is: what do you think is impossible?  Can you leave friends, family, popularity?  Can you lose your health or good looks and still be content?  Can you be content with any sacrifice God asks of you? 

Jesus made a promise – a promise that we can leave everything behind, even our family, our spouse, our homes … we can leave everything and still live a richer life on earth, and eternal glory in the afterlife.  Of course this is a faith challenge.  It means that we will stop relying on things that we've always relied on … and replace everything that’s ever been important to us … with God. 

If you follow the story closely, you’ll see what Jesus said: “With man it’s impossible.”  There are some things that we just don’t think we can do, and according to Jesus, we are right.  But “with God all things are possible.” 

So: get ready to do the impossible ... or go away sad
Those are the only two choices. 

The Rich Young Ruler went away sad.  He had understanding, he just didn't take action.  Remember what Jesus said at the end of the S.O.M.?  He said that both the wise man and the fool had listened to Jesus – but only one took action (Matthew 7.24-27).  Those of us who are doing the 3-column thing … recognize here that the third column is the most important.  Hearing and understanding Jesus will enable you to impress others, and make you feel better about yourself, but they will not set your house on solid rock, and you will be destroyed in the next storm – or if you prefer the parable of the four soils, your plant will dry up and die in the next drought (Mark 4.16-17).

Before I write more … before you read more … you should take a few moments and visit with God and ask Him to help you to believe.  Ask Him to show you how to increase your faith.  He helped me to do this, and I know He will help you, too. 

This isn't the kind of faith where you merely say you believe in God, it’s going to be necessary for you to “let go” of your security blankets – all of them – and be reliant on nothing and no one – but God.  This is like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute – your whole life is being gambled on some rope and nylon – and nothing else.  It’s not hard because it requires your effort, it’s hard because it requires you to surrender, to jump, to overcome your fear with faith.

Yahweh and His son Jesus have promised us that we don’t need any support but God, and in fact if we will “jump” with no backup, and no other support but God – success is guaranteed!  Sadly, many refuse to leave their “airplanes” of money, friendship, power, wealth, health, family relationships, house or style.  Why don’t we leave?  Because we’re afraid!  The plane ride may be scary itself ... we’re sure it’ll fail us eventually … but it takes a lot of faith to jump out and trust the Yahweh parachute!  
It's only scary before you jump

Here’s the thing you must recognize: everyone is scared before they jump, but everyone is all smiles once they've left the plane! 

What a church - everyone completely committed to God!
And jumping with others ... what a church!  

God is our only hope.  Every other thing will fail you.  Every person will fail you.  You will fail yourself.  God, and God alone comes with the guarantee of success.  Do you believe?  If so, then I’ll explain the science of “parachuting” in these next articles … but you’ll have to make the jump.  Do your third column, and trust God to deliver on His promise. 
“If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:26-27
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?  Luke 9:23-25
If you're ready to take this leap of faith, and trust God only ... read on.  The sermon on the mount begins with some surprising blessings.  We have seen the blessing of being Poor In Spirit, and future articles will continue from there.  "People who mourn are blessed" is going to be an exciting challenge - but if you are willing to taste and see that the Lord is good - you'll find out that this is the greatest life possible.  

No comments:

Post a Comment