This week we are going to focus on the teachings of Jesus, a huge task for one week. The Sermon on the Mount, opens as a kind of State of the Union address. Jesus then often teaches with parables, or short stories with layers of meaning, that challenge the listener as we ponder the meanings and are often challenge our behavior. Most importantly, though, Jesus led a life that was consistent with his teachings and drew others into conversation. Famously, his disciples asked him, “Teach us to pray.” We have the Lord’s Prayer used by all Christian denominations. Sermons, parables, a consistent life all challenged listeners to value reconciliation, faithfulness, forgiveness, and love. We see our epic hero, God, reflected in his incarnation, Jesus, and challenging our epic villain, Satan, as we choose whom we will follow.
Matthew 5:1-6:4 gives the fullest text of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus opens by defining the blessed or happy life. Surprisingly, happiness does not come from the glitter of this world but can be found in all places and conditions – mourning, poverty, humility and even persecution. We are challenged to be like salt and light, sharing, not keeping our faith private. Jesus then challenges us to look beyond the law to the condition of our hearts that lead to breaking the law. Hate is as bad as murder for hate is murder in the heart.
One of the little “stories” near the end of the sermon is about two men who built houses, one on rock and one on sand. When the rains came the house on the rock stood firm but the house on the sand washes away. He challenges us on how we are building our lives – like the Romans that spawned cruelty and oppression or by God’s guidelines. It is still true today as we choose how we will build the houses of our life.
As the song goes, “The wise man built his house upon the rock.” Today let us take a moment to ponder how we are building our house, our lives. Are we looking for happiness in the world’s values or in relationship to God? Blessings as you build.