Week 1: Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

As Christians in the USA it is easy to be distracted by the world.  Technology grabs hold of our every waking moment.  We are constantly searching for the next best thing, or we are so busy we forget to focus on Christ.  Even in the church today we become distracted by programs, activities, buildings, and sometimes even arguments within a congregation.  We tend to easily lose sight of the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, which should be the basis of our faith and how we live as Christians.  The word Christian means ‘follower of Christ’.  So if we call ourselves Christians shouldn’t we be analyzing Scripture and learning to live as Christ lived?

Over the next few months we are going to be looking at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) so that, together, we can learn how to effectively live for Christ.  The Sermon on the Mount was addressed directly to the disciples, which ultimately is for us as well.  These next weeks may reveal some tough truths about the life of a Christian, but hopefully they will be helpful in guiding us to a deeper, more passionate life following after Christ.

Here is an excerpt from a great book about following Christ titled, The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Hopefully this passage will give you a good idea of what we will be looking at over the next few months to come.

“Let us picture the scene: Jesus on the mountain, the multitudes, and the disciples.  The people see Jesus with his disciples, who have gathered around him.  Until quite recently these men had been completely identified with the multitude, they were just like the rest.  Then came the call of Jesus, and at once they left all and followed him.  Since then they have belonged to him, body and soul.  Now they go with him, live with him, and follow him wherever he leads them.  Something unique had occurred to them… Jesus sees his disciples.  They have publicly left the crowd to join him.  He has called them, every one, and they have renounced everything at his call.  Now they are living in want and privation, the poorest of the poor, the sorest afflicted, and the hungriest of the hungry.  They have only him, and with him they have nothing, literally nothing in the world, but everything with and through God.  It is but a little flock he has found, and it is a great flock he is seeking as he looks at the people.  Disciples and people, they belong together.  The disciples will be his messengers and here and there they will find men and women to hear and believe their message.  Yet there will be enmity between them right to the bitter end.  All the wrath of God’s people against him and his Word will fall on his disciples; his rejection will be theirs.  The cross casts its shadow before.  Christ, the disciples, and the people—the stage is already set for the passion of Jesus and his Church. Therefore Jesus calls his disciples blessed.”

Wow.  This is a lot to consider, and some of it sounds a bit overwhelming. But as Bonhoeffer points out, the disciples have everything with and through God.  This is important to keep in mind.  This week start scanning over the headings throughout Matthew 5-7, and begin to pray that God will teach you how to be a true follower of Christ.  Try to pray each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to sleep.  Pray that God will transform your mind and renovate your heart.  Be intentional when praying this week, and prepare your heart for what God has in store for your life.

I pray that you all have a blessed week.  We can’t wait to see you all out at Prairie Camp this summer!

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