Matthew 5:13- “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (NASV)
I started re-reading the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5-7 this week in light of some news that broke in regards to a popular pastor. This pastor removed himself from the inaugural prayer over a sermon he gave about 15-20 years ago with a similar title to my post. He had said some words that were not taken very well by a group of people and it caused him to withdraw from giving the prayer at the Presidential inauguration. At first I was really upset, or bummed out, about the situation, but then I came to recognize that maybe it was a good thing and maybe it could be a great opportunity for some discussion around standards of living and Christianity.
Forgive the vagueness of the first paragraph, but is intentional. I am not trying to create a debate as to whether or not the pastor’s words in his sermon were right or wrong, but to shed light on the only sermon that was ever given that had no flaws. You see, the “Sermon on the Mount” was given to a mass group of people and Jesus took the opportunity to share with them the standards by which He expected them to live. It was a beautiful message of redemption, reconciliation, love, kindness, compassion, mercy, and ultimately, how we live life together with people who are in the world.
Jesus knew that there were going to be differing opinions, lifestyles, etc. However, for Christians, His thoughts were shared so there was no wavering. Unfortunately, in our life we tend to do the exact opposite of what He meant for us to do. The standards are clear: love each other, care for the poor, love mercy, do justly, don’t hate others, pray regularly, live a life that is bringing glory to the creator so that His light shines brightly. We have a role to play in this world to bring people to a closer relationship with their Creator and by living the way He lays out for us will do just that.
Now, the problem we have is trying to place these standards on people who are not followers of Christ. These were standards set for people who literally followed Him to the mountain. They sat to hear His words and He declared “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock…Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (7:24-27). We need to walk in the world living His sermon out so people’s eyes and hearts can be drawn to the Lord, so maybe they can see a reflection of their Creator in the actions of His followers.
The people of the world are going to make their decisions. They will remain disconnected from their Redeemer, but if the people who hear His words truly act on them, the world will see a wiser Church and choose to live to the standards set by example and not by force. May our hearts and minds be lifted to the Lord; so His voice and message of reconciliation may be heard loud and clear when we speak.