Sermon on the Mount 2

"We have seen the enemy..."

That makes me think that the hardest enemy to love is the one we find inside of us. As the saying from the old cartoon goes: "We have seen the enemy and they are us." And so our biggest challenge is not learning how to love that anonymous enemy on the internet, but how to love the one we know best, the one that trolls in our own soul. This is the one that makes us drink too much or eat too much, the one that holds on to hurts too long or takes offense too easily, the one that is always comparing us to someone else or measuring us against some impossible standard, the one that keeps score every time we screw up or is forever playing our parent tapes back to us.

Don't Follow the Money

Money makes us think that we can own things and people. We use it to impress our neighbors and coworkers, placate our spouses, and bribe our children. Money also makes us think that we can control things. If we have enough money, we can buy a good education, we can buy insurance, and we can pay into a pension, and then we will have it made. But all it takes is a divorce, a diagnosis, or a death to prove that money is not nearly as powerful as it seems. Now let's take a look at God. The Psalms say that all power belongs to God. [Psalm 62:11] But the way God works is so very different from the way money works. The best way I can put it is that money leads to ownership whereas God leads to relationship. Money seeks to be in control. God seeks to be in love. Do you see the difference?

New Self, New Path

But as I reflected on this text this week, the Spirit helped me to see that there is a way to believe in both the narrow gate and the wide circle. Think of the narrow gate as the Truth... The problem is that none of us have it. None of us can claim to have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about ourselves or anyone else. Yes, I have my truth. You have your truth. But let's be honest: neither of us is very close to The Truth. So thank God there is also mercy. The wide mercy of God gives us the grace we need to get through the narrow gate, as long as we realize that the grace that is wide enough to include us is also wide enough to include the brother or sister that has something against us.

Jesus' Inaugural Address

I appreciate that Jesus begins his inaugural address with a blessing. Jesus begins with a positive vision of life. Instead of starting out complaining about all the things people are doing wrong, as many of the prophets did and politicians do, Jesus begins by blessing those who are doing things right. But don't be fooled, for these blessings do have a bite. In every verse where Jesus is talking about the reign of God, he is in the same breath challenging the reign of man. The problem is that we are so familiar with these words that we can't hear how radical they really are. What Jesus is saying and what the authorities are hearing is that when God's Kingdom comes, your kingdom will have to go.