“The history of the impact of the Sermon on the Mount can largely be described in terms of an attempt to domesticate everything in it that is shocking, demanding, and uncompromising, and render it harmless.”
– Pinchas Lapide
You haven’t truly witnessed the human capacity to vomit endless rationalizations until you’ve suggested to a Christian that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, means what he says and says what he means. I vote that we change evangelism from altar calls and sinner’s prayers to the studying & signing of a contract to live out the Kingdom-life portrayed in the Sermon on the Mount.
Can you imagine a church or youth group where the commitment to become a Christian (to “follow Jesus”) is a thought-out pledge to the distinct lifestyle commanded in the Sermon? It might hurt our “numbers,” but I have a feeling that if we did this our churches, while smaller, would be much more Christ-like and profoundly more interesting to the world around us.
2 thoughts on “Obviously Jesus Didn’t REALLY Mean That”
this x 1,000!!! Good stuff MIKE!!
Our numbers are just that….our numbers. 🙂 We have heard yet another cliche in Christiandom lately…..”ALL IN” Hmmm “All In” sounds good…sounds very committed. I think we will see a generation of followers of Christians who claim to be ALL IN when they actually demonstrate a lifestyle that will reveal a total surrender to the authority of Christ. Anything less is not ALL IN. Today, the numbers are few…..very few who are ALL IN. You are the ones who do not fear death, who do not worry, who are not anxious, who are not self righteous or need to be applauded for being a Sunday school teacher for 30 years. You are are who Christ has made you. A slave to His righteousness.
The implications of taking Jesus seriously are too uncomfortable for most Christians (heck, even to most people in general.) It would require a wholesale change in both attitude and lifestyle. Anyone who pretends otherwise is not really listening to what Jesus had to say. I’m not referring to a list of “dos” and “don’ts”, which, unfortunately is what many of us have been fed for so long in our churches. I’m referring to a radical re-orientation in our relationship both to God and to our fellow human beings. Jesus didn’t make a long list of rules to follow, but he also didn’t provide any “escape clauses” in the commands he did give.
That being said, I think the difficult thing for those of us who have been brought up in a “dos and donts” approach to Christianity is to figure out exactly how this radical reorientation of priorities should look in our lives. I know I struggle with this constantly. How generous should I be? Do I give to every single person who asks of me, even when I’m tapped out? How do I live out the commands of Jesus without making legalistic lists?
I also think our individualistic approach to salvation has also clouded our ability to comprehend things like the Sermon on the Mount. We fall into the trap of thinking it’s “all up to me” to save the world while forgetting that Jesus was preaching to a community. Therefore, I would welcome comments and discussion here. How have you understood the Sermon on the Mount? How have you tried to live out the attitudes and lifestyle it prescribes knowing that no matter what we do, we’ll inevitably fail at some point? How do we follow the commands of Jesus as a community of believers and not just as individuals?