Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Sermon on the Mount: Radical Relationships

It's ironic, but we tend to "keep score" of our Christian commitment in a very different way than Christ Himself does. Think about do we religious types typically measure our spirituality? In my experience, it usually comes down to rules and rituals.

Rules like:

Don't cuss.
Don't get drunk.
Don't watch bad stuff on TV.
Be faithful to your spouse.
Tell the truth.
Hold your temper.

Rituals like:

Be in church whenever the doors are open.
Read your Bible.

And believe me, all that stuff is important indeed. But is that how Jesus measures our commitment to Him? Is that the kind of stuff we'll be judged upon when we stand before Him? I don't think so. Everything I read in the Scriptures tells me we'll be judged primarily by how we respond to people. If we love God, we'll love the people He created. If we want to show love to Jesus, we'll give a cup of cold water to those in need. If we don't love our brothers, the love of the Father isn't in us. You know those Scriptures as well as I do...we just don't tend to think of them very often. But consider this: The Gospels tell us very little about Jesus' religious life. We see a couple of times when He went to synagogue, a few fleeting references to His prayer life, and no references to Him reading the Scriptures (I'm sure He did these things faithfully, but the Gospels just don't make a big deal about them). As far as rules go, Jesus often did things that seemed to break the religious rules of His day (not the Scriptural commands, but the traditions of the time).

Instead of showing Jesus adhering to rules and observing rituals, the Gospels show Jesus relating to people. That's what He did: He showed the love of God to people who needed it. He told folks about the Kingdom. He mentored His disciples. He healed the sick. Jesus spent His ministry on people.

And as we near the end of our study on the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the most comprehensive principle on human relationships ever devised. What does it mean? How can we truly apply the Golden Rule in our daily relationships? Considering all we've just said, these are crucial questions. We'll talk about them this Sunday.

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