In today’s day and age, it seems so much grabs at our attention. Television, news, commercials, etc. I see the challenges in myself. Jesus commanded us to not concern ourselves with the future. Yet, I do so often. Whether I worry about my finances, or read reviews to figure out what the next, exciting game I will purchase, I break Jesus’ commands, found in the Sermon on the Mount, in multiple ways.
Lately, I have been listening to The Cost of Discipleship by the German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It really hits home. He dives into how the sermon on the mount, and how we should work to live it out quite literally. All too often, we internalize it as some good advice, or completely ‘spiritual’ directions never to be taken literally. Certainly, much of what Jesus said applied to the spiritual aspect of life. However, what if those commands were quite literal? Do we truly understand that these are commands from our Lord, and not just great advice?
As just one small example, take this passage from The Sermon on the Mount…
Mat 6 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
In the above passage, Jesus talks about fasting. We can easily infer that fasting should play a substantial role in the Christians’ life. It makes sense. Jesus and the Bible warns often that love with the things of this world (food, drink, entertainment, etc) means enmity with God. While we may need or want the things of the world, taking a break to focus on our walk with God increases our dependence on Him. Therefore, fasting is an indispensable part of the Christian walk. Yet, how many of us practice this on a regular basis? How many churches even teach about it?
And, do not get me wrong. I certainly do not teach justification by works. However, our love for God should produce good works. We know a tree by its fruits, so to speak. And, while we should never put the cart in front of the horse, a Christian’s life should always be characterized by a hard pursuit after the heart of Christ. Fasting is only one example of how we can do that, as Jesus Himself taught. We can find much more in the Sermon on the Mount, as well as His other teachings.
Many people tell me that they struggle to know God’s will for their lives. Well, it seems to me that most of us have to work and take care of a family for the majority of our time. The Bible clearly teaches that we serve God by doing those things as onto Him. In other words, we work as if we worked directly for God. We take care and love our families as if we were serving Jesus Himself. Yet, aside from this, the Bible gives us a great many directions for what to do and how to live. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a great place to start. Pray about it and then read it slowly. Ask yourself, as you read each line, how your life differs from what Christ commands. Then, ask Him to help you walk in the way that He commands. I know I will.
On a footnote… So, no one answered my poll last week about what I should write, hahahahah. That means either no one reads my blog, or if they do, they just do not care. Perhaps they have no opinion. I suppose that sits fine with me. Since the beginning I have expressed that I write for myself. I simply post these thoughts on the internet in case they may be of some help or support to others out there. If they do help you, please drop me a note, as it does encourage me to write more. May God Bless you.