Sermon for March 4, 2018
The Sermon on the Mount can make your head spin and your heart sing. It can give you the chills, feeling as though you are truly seen like never before. On another day, it might make your heart sink, your mind alert, and primed to investigate. It may feel like you don’t even know the person who got those chills. Have you ever felt like the sermon was acting as a mirror to whatever your current situation is? What do you do with a scripture that can exist on so many levels? I say, let it speak!
One of the great beauties of the scripture God gave us is that it is a living Truth. It resists being tied down and defined. While this might be difficult for us in times when we want to be fed meaning, without searching, it also means that the scripture is alive for you as you change. It can speak to you as you, and your struggles, change.
When Jesus tells us not to worry, he’s holding up a reflection of our worrying tendency, describing our true nature as being free of worry, and calling us to his Grace, all at once. He’s saying, ‘I see you’re worry, but that’s not really you- I’m here’. There is no need to choose a proper interpretation and try to stick with it. Jesus sees you- all of you.
Christ’s word is meant to live, exist within. When you feel that you have to lock down the scripture with a meaning, it’s a good indication you’re drowning out the Holy Spirit with your own noise. You are giving in to the desire to exist on one level in a changing world. You’re focusing on ‘you’ reading ‘the scripture’ and not what is going on in the interaction. That’s where the Holy Spirit is so active and available. What use is someone’s interpretation when you’re not listening to your own active experience? Our voices, and others, can be extremely loud. God won't always scream over the noise we choose to focus on and so a kind quietness, both externally and internally, becomes an important aspect of our experience of Christ's truth.
There have been times when I read the sermon and I simply have to stop. Whatever the specific situation I might be in, the clear message is that I am disconnected. I can read the same words that were uplifting, deeply meaningful, a week earlier, and I feel lost in the words and caught up in the worries of the world this week. This is the living word of Jesus also. It tells me something about where I am spiritually that I might have been deluded by if I had simply relied on the distractions of the world. Maybe I looked around and used my material comforts to reinforce a false sense of security, but when I read Jesus telling me how not to worry, I knew it was all a delusion. I really was worried.
Rather than feeling guilt for a lack of perceived faith, or staying totally deluded in a false sense of spiritual status, rejoice in the fact that Jesus is speaking to you and showing you where you are. Perhaps in these times, relying on the saving Grace of Christ is exactly what is needed and active faith and reflection is not. Christ is teaching you, actively, where you are and what you need.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve gone to scripture with a vague idea of what I wanted to find, or confidence in where I was spiritually, only to find Jesus turning me on my head. Even when those situations are less than pleasing to my more egocentric side, the experience is profound and transformative. It’s as if even even a newly found doubt has become a method for Christ to strengthen my overall faith.
I could write for weeks about the various levels of meaning in the Sermon on The Mount and I’d still just be scratching the surface. But how much more miraculous, divine, for you to find the life in words others so often want to define for you. The living word of Jesus is there, waiting to transform you in ways you couldn’t be told by someone else. There’s nothing wrong with reading modern sermons, commentaries, interpretations, as kinds of waypoints in your journey to Christ. But these should be in the context of a very personal relationship with Him.
Could you sincerely seek Jesus, with all your heart, if you didn’t approach the scripture as a living truth, with levels of meaning for every person and situation? I know this wouldn’t be possible for me. I need a living word, for living life, that no man can hold down. I want to know that when I go to read Christ’s sermon, the Holy Spirit will find me, wherever I am.
Read the Sermon on The Mount several times this week, in different situations. Read it one day when you’re flying high and write down some impressions and feelings. Pick a few other times when you’re in a different place spiritually. Be mindful of how things change, why and when, and trust that the promises of Jesus Christ are true.
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God’s Grace be with you- Pastor Rob