(As part of today’s message, I tried to interpret and condense the Sermon on the Mount. Several people asked for a copy, so I’m putting it here on the blog. Read for yourself in Matthew 5-7 and see if it works for you.)
Here is my expression of what Jesus teaches:
You poor ones, you lacking ones, you meek ones, you ones full of need and grief: you are blessed. You will be blessed! Blessing comes when you go “all in” with me, even if others attack you for it. When you go “all in” with me, you flavor the world. You light it up. A better way to say it is, you are the channel through which my flavor and my light get expressed in the world. I am the fruit that will come out of you, when you dig your roots into me.
I’m not throwing out all the rules and actions and instructions God gave earlier. In fact I’m calling you beyond the letter of the law to a higher standard of mercy and love. It’s a difficult call I am placing on you, one which will require sacrifice from you. But I’m going to offer the biggest sacrifice. I am going to out-give you, out-love you, out-grace you, out-forgive you. I’m setting the example and the standard and I’m inviting you not to just get by, not to just be better than other people, not to find a passing grade on the commandments. I’m asking you to be as giving and loving and forgiving as your heavenly Father is.
But don’t do this stuff to impress others. Don’t try to impress me or God’s people with your resume of spiritual activities. Trust that God sees what you do and loves you– even if no one else notices. Talk to God. And when you do, put God in the rightful place; worship God, honor God’s name.
Ask for and learn daily dependence. Ask for and remember that God gives you what you need each day. Ask for the forgiveness God wants to give, and don’t hoard it for yourself…forgive others, too.
If you do all this stuff to get attention, or to prove yourself to me and to the world, it’s futile. All those good deeds on display will rust and get moth-eaten. But when you walk with me, set your attention on me, develop a life of dependence on me…that’s the lasting treasure.
There’s such anxiety when you pursue other things than me, other things which in reality rust and get ruined. Pursue me. Seek me. Know me. Learn from me. Receive from me all the gifts I want to give you. This is the key!
If you’re trying to please other people or trying to criticize what they aren’t getting right, your judgment of others is keeping you from knowing me and receiving from me. Just come to me! Ask, seek, knock. I love to give! You don’t have to earn it. If you presume you’ve already got it…if you’re sure you’ve achieved and have done it all…well, you certainly won’t ask ME for help. I wish you would put down your credentials and just come to me, know me. Ask, seek, knock and enter.
I’m sad to say there are so many pursuits, so many doors, so many things that can keep you from knowing me and walking with me. There are even people who will try to keep you from me. Watch what comes out of them. Watch what comes out of the people who follow them, and see if it looks giving, loving, and forgiving like me. If not, don’t be fooled. It won’t last and grow.
In fact, there are people who will say all the right things and even do some amazing things, and they will be so confident and presumptuous that they deserve good treatment from God because of it. Please don’t fall into that trap! Remember how I taught you to pray: cultivate a daily dependence on our giving God. Not on your actions.
Cultivate a daily dependence on our giving God. Dependence isn’t presumptuous. It isn’t all talk and no follow through. Dependence is trust. It’s knowing and being known by God.