The Church & The Kingdom.
by Vanessa Laurey.
Jesus’ Most Famous Sermon.
Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount is truly the greatest sermon ever preached. It was also a profoundly dumbfounding moment for the first hearers of Jesus’words as He sat mountainside teaching the ways and trademarks of His kingdom.
These words are not for the fainthearted. They are immensely profound. And they were strikingly different to any of the teachings the disciples had heard in their tradition.
For the disciple today, seeking and desiring to follow Jesus, and to represent Him and His kingdom, the sermon on the mount is His greatest manifesto of what it is to be a true person of the kingdom.
Upside Down & Back To Front…
If you like, the beatitudes are things that sound upside down and back to front if we are to compare them to the ways of the world and culture in which we find ourselves.
But don’t be fooled - nothing has ever changed - it was just as much an upside down back to front manifesto then as it is in our context today.
Who thinks about being poor in spirit as being a blessing and making you happy?
Or mourning making you happy because you will be comforted?
Or turning the other cheek, and being slapped again with insults, as bringing you great joy?
What on earth are you talking about Jesus?! This is not going to bring me happiness…. is it?
And anyway, how on earth am I supposed to live up to these descriptions, it seems way too out there to be ever a reality in my life?
Or is it?
Needing God, To Be Like God.
The very first beatitude is really the starting block if you like into entering the kingdom at all.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
When you have come to realise that your greatest need is GOD, and that without Him you are without hope in this world, you have fulfilled the first beatitude… you have become poor in spirit.
But it is not something that we can leave behind once we have entered and received the kingdom.
It is also the permanent attitude we are to have being people of the kingdom. We are to take up this spirit of recognising that,
in everything I need GOD.
If I have any hope at all of fulfilling this lifestyle, then staying in a place of need before God is the only way I will be filled with the grace to walk it all out. He fills all those who come to Him hungry and thirsty!
The Church & The Kingdom.
If you hadn’t worked it out yet, as the church, the people following Jesus’ leadership in an eternal kingdom,
we are called to be a visibly radically different sort of people walking around in this earth!
Being salt and light is about being almost irritable to those around you.
Have you ever irritated someone by your consistent peace? Or consistent joy? Or consistent love?
Have you caused people to be totally confused and ask, ‘what is it about you, why are you so different?!’
Because your joy, your happiness, your peace, your security is not in the approval of people, or in the things of this world, but in GOD, who gives you His approval, and love, and presence, and strength in every situation and circumstance!
You have received a kingdom that cannot be stolen from you!
You have felt the forgiveness of God and His mercy take you from a place of sin and shame and darkness of life, and He has loved you into wholeness, and made you come alive, and so now you can give forgiveness to others when they wrong you or insult you, or misunderstand you, or even hate you!
The idea is: You are able to give it, because you have radically received it. And are constantly living in a place of receiving before Jesus, that fills you up to overflow.
This is what the church is called to look like - a visibly, radically forgiven and loved group of people who all live to know God more and more, and give away His love to anyone they come into contact with!
The church is supposed to look like Matthew 5, Jesus’ kingdom.
Get Back to The Feet of Jesus.
To be a disciple is to be a learner. So get back to the feet of Jesus, open up His words in Matthew 5, the sermon on the mount, and realise again, that in order to be filled with the grace of living as a person of the kingdom, you first must place yourself at the feet of Jesus and admit,
“I cannot do this without YOU. Fill me up GOD! So that I will be radically different in this world, and show the world how much you’ve loved me, and how much you love them.”