I am starting a new sermon series this weekend on the Sermon on the Mount. And, as I read this big sermon from Jesus, I read it as providing an alternative ethic for the Kingdom of God. It casts a vision of what God’s reign looks like and, therefore, what God’s followers look like in that Kingdom. Yet the Sermon on the Mount, if taken correctly, rubs us the wrong way. The vision that Jesus lays out for us here (take “the Beatitudes” for instance) is very different than the vision that is provided by the world at large. We have competing visions, competing discipleships.
This week I found the following, from Dave Harder to be applicable:
God’s vision for his church is to shape people into the image of Jesus. The dominant cultural narrative is the one of “Project Self”, which the church has heavily bought into. Instead of leasing everyone in our congregations, allowing to stay entitled and self consumed… We need to ask: What kind of disciples do we need in todays culture and urban landscape? We have adopted a myth of neutrality and contested space – everyone is being discipled into something… we live in contested space. What specific forces are you up against in your cultural narrative? The call to disciples of Jesus is to live a different story in the midst of culture… this is the challenge. We have imported ongoing adolesence into the church where people never grow up, never look like the Jesus we follow.
We must see people go from:
Death to life
Shame to Acceptance
Self to Others
Consumers to Missionaries
Striving to Abiding
The Sermon on the Mount can be read as description of what Kingdom Living looks like in “contested space.” It provides an alternative reality to the discipleship and faith presented by the culture (or cultures) in which we live and move and work. As people ask what following Jesus looks like, we should be able to point them to Matthew 5-7 and say, “It looks like this.”