With New Eyes

The Sermon on the Mount has been in the forefront of my mind the last several weeks, and I have been loving it.  I'll admit that there was a time in my life, when coming to that entire section filled me with dread, fear and condemnation.  But it no longer does that, instead it fills me with excitement and a desire to say, "Yes and Amen" to God's Kingdom, what He is doing in it and how He has invited us to participate.  Some of the leading influences in this excitement and changed perspective has come from NT Wright's 40 days of Lent, Todd Hunter's sermon Beatitudes (Feb 2, 2014), The Message's version of the sermon on the Mount and my own reflections on my life via the Holy Spirit.

The following post will be snippets from Matthew 5 with my own reflections interjected in-between.  I hope you enjoy:

I must start with the end, before I get to the beginning, because the end frames it up so well:

48 Live out your God-created identity. 
Live generously and graciously toward others,
 the way God lives toward you.

This is what Jesus is inviting us to throughout the Sermon on the Mount, in fact throughout His whole life as He proclaims, "God's Kingdom come on earth."

I got to get away this past weekend for a Women's Retreat with my church.  During the silent retreat time, I was overwhelmed by God's faithfulness to me and to my life.  I was filled with utter joy.  The past 10 years of my life have been filled with many hard, hopeless, tear-filled days.  There were times where I did not want to get out of bed because the pain in my heart was so deep.  But as I reflected on these times and the things that I have learned through it - I have realized that I have emerged with a deep trust in God's heart and His love for me and those who surround me.  This conviction has partially come from living out the truths found in the Sermon on the Mount.  I have realized that the very words of Jesus are true and living and do produce the life-giving Kingdom that He has promised.

Here are a few of the snippets that jumped out at me as I read through Matthew 5 this morning:

vs 5  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are
—no more, no less. 
That’s the moment you find yourselves 
proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

Learning to be content in my own skin, with who God has created me has been one of the treasured lessons I have received out of this journey.

vs 6-9
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. 
He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. 
At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ 
you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world
—your mind and heart—
put right. 
Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people 
how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. 
That’s when you discover who you really are, 
and your place in God’s family.

This joy and love for God and His kingdom is being awakened during the season of Lent. Celebrating Lent is a fairly new concept for my faith-walk but it has been a beautiful experience.  As my pastor said during our Ash Wednesday service - Lent is not about beating yourself up and punishing yourself to try and get yourself to be acceptable before God.  Rather it is placing your sin at His feet and listening for His words of truth over you.  So as I've entered into this season - I have stopped to listen with new eyes and fresh ears to what God has to say, instead of my preconceived notions of what I think He should say.  The difference is beautiful.

Let me tell you why you are here. 
You’re here to be salt-seasoning that 
brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? 
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. 
 If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? 
I’m putting you on a light stand.
 Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! 

For me, Lent is a season to reflect on these truth of being salt and light and remembering that I get to shine.  The spaces where godliness has diminished I get to bring before Him and let Him fix, heal and teach me.  For He says,

“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. 
I’m not here to demolish but to complete. 
I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama.
God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. 
Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

God's way seems backwards and sometimes it is hard.  And that's where this trust and understanding of what He is up to makes all the difference in the world:

You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, 
‘Do not murder.’ 
I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. 
Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. 
Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire.
The simple moral fact is that words kill.

This is not about the tit-and-tat of the law.  Rather it is about understanding the power we have as image-bearers of God.  The power of our words and of our hearts.  Self-indulgence in what feels good for the moment can have long-lasting negative effects on those we love (and do not love).  How then can we love?


“You’re familiar with the old written law, 
‘Love your friend,’ 
and its unwritten companion, 
‘Hate your enemy.’ 
I’m challenging that. 
I’m telling you to love your enemies. 
Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. 
When someone gives you a hard time,
respond with the energies of prayer, 
for then you are working out of your true selves, 
your God-created selves. 
This is what God does. 
He gives his best
—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—
to everyone, regardless: 
the good and bad, 
the nice and nasty. 

So we have come full circle.  Back to where we started:

Live out your God-created identity. 
Live generously and graciously toward others, 
the way God lives toward you.

My conclusion is that coming to know how God feels about me has enabled me to walk this out in my own life and as a result I am enjoying the fruits of this kind of living.  Even in the midst of the difficulties, the unknown, the darkness and the questions - clinging to God's way, loving the way that He loves - it is worth it.

In Christ,




All Scripture has come from BibleGateway's website.

1 comment:

  1. Charles and Ceri BeattyMarch 12, 2014

    I'll say "Yes and Amen" to that! =-)

    ReplyDelete

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