Jesus Teaches Us How To Live

BCC family,
Sunday we looked at the Beatitudes ("Blessings") in Matthew 5:1-12. Jesus reveals what life looks like for those who are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. The whole Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is a description of this life of following Jesus, and it is an amazingly high standard! In Matthew 5:48, Jesus tells us, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  But how is this high ethical standard supposed to be accomplished?

On the one hand, Jesus declares that those who have believed in him are already citizens of that kingdom and that the kingdom is "theirs." On the other hand, Jesus also emphasizes that there are things that will not be fully experienced until Jesus returns. The hunger and thirst for righteousness and the tears or mourning will not be fully satisfied or comforted until a future time. Thus, Jesus sets a high standard that is meant to be sought after and lived out in this life in the now but will not be fully realized until later. We live between the now and the not yet, seeking his kingdom and his righteousness, but understanding that all that God has in store for those who hope is still to come.

Why might this be a helpful understanding to have? First of all, I think it is the biblical view. Jesus makes clear,  "While you are in this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33) We live as salt and light, seasoning, preserving, and lighting a way in the darkness (Matthew 5:13-16). We seek to bring God's kingdom impact to a world that needs to see what God has intended for his creation. However, we also realize that we will do so only in part. This should give us comfort in knowing that loose ends and work left unfinished will one day be fully tied up and completed. Justice will finally come, and whatever was done in secret will be exposed. God's children will be revealed, and the world will be as he intends it to be.
Likewise, Jesus' ethical standard is so high, it seems impossible...which it is! Well, it and it isn't. That is, entrance into the kingdom is not tied to getting all of these areas of our lives in place before we are accepted (e.g., lust and anger and judgement of others, etc.). What Jesus shares here are not entrance requirements. The key requirement is spiritual poverty. That is when we finally realize we don't have what it takes and that we are spiritually bankrupt, then, and only then, are we able to accept the invitation to the kingdom. We have nothing we can bring. Only Jesus.

However, once we become followers of Jesus and citizens of the kingdom, we have a new identity and a new power available to us. We become new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), and we have the power and presence of his Spirit living within us to accomplish the transformation Jesus is talking about (Romans 8:9-11). It is in this context, then, that we can finally become who God intends for us to be (i.e., perfect, as he is perfect). The process begins on this side of eternity in the now, but will only be fully realized in the not-yet (Col. 3:9). In the meantime, we strive toward the standards Jesus has laid out, trusting in his Spirit to inform and empower us to become more and more like our Heavenly Father.

You see, the more we begin to reflect our Father, the more his kingdom will be realized in this world. More people will be loved, forgiven, and fed. More people will be drawn to the King (Jesus) as they see his citizens living in ways that reflect him. Thus, the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus' invitation to a radically new way of envisioning life; life as it was meant to be all along. And you and I get to help point others toward this new life as we faithfully model him before a watching world!

Daren Penwell
Lead Pastor

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