from my perspective…
It’s hard being a person who seeks after God when we live in a secular world. We are so fortunate to live where it is more common than not to believe in God, even though most of our neighbors do not attend church outside of funerals and weddings. In intellectual circles, being known as a Christian can invite a dismissive response like “are you someone who
needs a crutch to get through life?” Frankly, I can think of no better crutch than Jesus. Because leaning on Him gives me purpose, satisfaction and fulfillment that I could not find as a casual Christian. Through Jesus’ teaching, I am inspired to live with authenticity and integrity. I don’t have to search social media to find out who I am, where I fit in, how I can make a positive difference in this life, or what is vital for living a good life – His
teachings do all that and more.Two thousand years ago, Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt. 4.17, ESV) Repent from what? Could it be “Repent from trying to find meaning in life by yourself?” or “Repent from trying to navigate the world without God and God’s teaching?” Sure, the Rabbis and the Pharisees were there to say, “Follow God’s Law, and everything will be fine.” But they had made following the Law so complicated that I imagine many tried to keep the laws to keep out of trouble but didn’t find the peace that God intended for His children when He gave His Torah to Moses.I believe Jesus’ disciples had one distinct characteristic. They hungered and thirsted for the Kingdom of Heaven, the peace of God to come to Earth. The first two were disciples of John the Baptist, and we might guess that James and John, who were further down the beach, were also. Yet, somewhere in their spirit, they knew there was more to living in God’s grace than keeping hundreds of rules. After all, the religious system they experienced didn’t seem like Heaven on Earth. When Jesus began to teach “the gospel (the good news about) the kingdom…” (Mt. 4.23), questions must have occurred to the newly called disciples like, “What does life in the Kingdom of Heaven look like?” And “What does Jesus expect of His disciples and followers?” We will address these questions as we will address as we walk carefully through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount during Lent. Furthermore, because Matthew tells us that Jesus said and did things to “fulfill what had been written in the Prophets,” I’ll attempt to tie Jesus’ teaching with God’s teaching in the Old Testament. Throughout the centuries, we have the testimony of those who followed Jesus’ teaching and found themselves rising above the confusing and unsatisfying Godless world they lived in. I believe we can expect the same results.
Therefore, will you please join us as we uncover what God has in store for us in the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now?
Your hope-filled pastor,