God sent Jesus to establish His kingdom on this earth. How? By transforming our hearts. And that is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. Jesus, in three chapters, gives us a picture of what God’s kingdom looks when we allow Him to transform our hearts. It’s a picture of what being a disciple of Jesus looks like when we have 100% faith in Him.
As great as that sounds, we had to give you a warning before we talk about the Sermon on the Mount. God’s kingdom is the absolute opposite of our kingdom. It’s radically different. Throughout this summer there will some common themes you will probably wrestle with.
First, God’s kingdom, to us, doesn’t makes sense. It will feel like an upside-down kingdom. Jesus says things like; ‘love your enemies,’ and, ‘don’t worry about tomorrow.’ What?!? You will find yourself, maybe, creating reasons why what Jesus said, doesn’t apply to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow? That might work for others, but I have to worry about tomorrow! His kingdom doesn’t make sense to us.
Secondly, you will find yourself, maybe, struggling to go all in. Jesus says things like, ‘You can’t love God and money both, you will love one and hate the other.’ There will be a tension in your heart and mind about giving up the kingdom you live in for God’s kingdom. So, we can’t love money and God. What does that mean if I go all in to follow Christ? You may struggle to go all in.
Third, to radically place your trust in Christ changes everything. Jesus says things like, ‘If you don’t forgive others then that cuts you off from God forgiving you.’ To surrender to Christ as your Lord and Savior means we place every area of our lives before God. Every area. The question is, do you really do surrender to the point where it shows up in our lives?
Do you see what I am saying today? God sent Jesus to establish His kingdom in your heart and it might be a challenge. It’s a completely opposite kingdom that our kingdom.
Last week, Sam and Jami shared about the beatitudes. Sam made the beatitudes so real when he asked us to fill in the bank. “I am blessed when __________.” How would you fill that in?
This week we jump into the next chunk of scripture.
13 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? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14 Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. 15 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. 16 Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. MSG Matthew 5:13-16
Same verses, different translation.
13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. NIV Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus says, you live in a demonic culture that is rotting away. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. It’s you. That’s why you are here. I am establishing God’s kingdom in your heart so that you will go make a difference. How you do it is up to you, but you’re here to make a difference. You are at you best when you connect with others. You are at your best when you do good things to bless others.
This is why we challenge everyone to be intentional about loving people who are far from God. Here at MRC, yes, that is why we encourage you to work in Children’s ministry at MRC. Yes, volunteer at New Hope Ministries all year round. Yes, volunteer at Youth Impact Project for two days. Why? Because you are the salt and light in this demonic world rotting away.
The reverse is true too. We are at our worst when we avoid our opportunity to impact others. We go stale when we do the least possible. We get spiritually lost when we circle endlessly in deeper discipleship and fail to love others around us. We will feel tired and defeated. When we check out, when we do the least, when we get lost in endless spiritual discipleship but fail to love others, it’s like life becomes one deep rut that we can’t get out of. We just check off the days of our lives. I would challenge you with the comment that, that isn’t living. It’s like being zombie. You have a physical body but your spirit is dead. That’s not living, that’s surviving. And I would have to ad, that’s not God’s fault. That would be because of our choices.
Please hear me tell you, we exist to make a difference. Our church is here to make a difference, not just plod along paying bills. Around us right now, are hundreds of people who will die and go to hell unless they give their lives to Christ. Why did I go early last week to set up church in Gettysburg? Because someone, someone completely shattered by life, might walk in and hear about God’s overwhelming grace. The local church exists to make a difference.
You exist to make a difference. What do most people ask; how? What are the details? What are the rules? What are my next steps? How much will it cost me? How much time will it take? My answer? Who cares about the details. Be creative. Have fun. Your life isn’t about, ‘color by the numbers.’ That’s boring. That’s predictable. We call that religion. Your life is about doing something beautiful. I didn’t say big. I didn’t say you would be rewarded for it. I said do something beautiful. Something original to you.
Jesus didn’t give us details, Jesus said:
…be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God…
Why would we be salt and light? We need to understand what is at risk. There really is a hell. There really is a loving God. And you really have a role to play.
7 And so I would say to you who are suffering, God will give you rest along with us when the Lord Jesus appears suddenly from heaven in flaming fire with his mighty angels, 8 bringing judgment on those who do not wish to know God and who refuse to accept his plan to save them through our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 They will be punished in everlasting hell, forever separated from the Lord, never to see the glory of his power… TLB 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
Can I ask you something? What do you focus on? What do you think about? What dreams do you have? The reason I ask you these questions is because when God establishes His kingdom in our hearts, I believe we are salt and light in this demonic rotting culture. I believe, the greatest thing we can do is be aware that people who have rejected Christ, according to scripture, are forever separated from God in hell. I think the greatest thing we could think about is how we can impact people in our lives. I don’t know a greater mission to be a part of.
What do you focus on? What do you think about? What dreams do you have?
I want to tell you three things about lost people.
First, chances are, they aren’t coming to church. That makes you their best understanding of God.
Think about that. This summer; think about the all the parties and family functions you will go to. How many people at that party go to church? How many of them know about God’s unbelievable, reckless love for them? Chances are most people you hang out with don’t go to church and don’t fully understand who God is.
Quick Note: If everyone you hang out with goes to church, you need more friends. Go do something that forces you to meet new people, something fun. Seriously, if all your friends are Christian, that’s not a good thing. Chances are you are in a bubble and you need to pop it.
Every person you meet at those parties who doesn’t know about God’s love, you are there best understanding of God. That makes you the salt and light to them. I didn’t say to be some weird religious person trying to make Jesus look good to them. Don’t be weird. Just be real. You must know, you are the salt and light. It’s why you are here on this earth. It’s why Jesus established God’s kingdom in your heart.
Your next party, you should ask yourself, “Who here doesn’t know about God’s love?” Then go hang out with them.
Secondly, chances are, they think God is an angry God who can’t wait to judge them or tell them what to do. God is like the mean, ‘no fun’ parent. That means how you treat them might be the only way they understand who God is.
Think about that. This summer; you get a chance to be with hurting people and God placed you there on purpose. What they need is love. What they need is acceptance. What they need is someone to listen to them. Maybe the best thing for you to do is keep quiet. Seriously. Just be there like a friend. This world doesn’t need deeper discipleship, they need someone to love them.
If you need help with understanding this, read how Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery. Read how Jesus treated the woman at the well. Read how Jesus was attacked by church people when He was hanging out with the worst sinners in the town. Jesus engaged the mess around Him. You are the salt and light. It’s why you are here on this earth. It’s why Jesus established God’s kingdom in your heart.
Third, chances are, when it comes to Jesus, they will never listen to pastor but they will listen to you.
Again, think about this. This summer; you are next to hurting people who don’t go to church. God places you next to them. Do you realize you are the salt and light at that moment? They aren’t going to listen to the pastor. They will assume I am fake, but they will listen to you.
Imagine the moment you share with them that God’s grace has changed your life. Imagine the moment you share with them that you were busted up but God is in the process of healing you. Imagine the moment you share with them who Jesus is to you. At that moment, you are salt and light in a demonic culture that is rotting away.
Years ago, there was a man who we all drank coffee with. I got to know him very well. He was friend. We met almost every day for coffee. We met for years and years. We had talks about God now and then but I never pushed in on him. One day, I went into the coffee shop and heard awful news. He killed himself. He was in his apartment, alone and just ended it. I had no clue he felt so alone, so depressed, so much pressure that he didn’t reach out to all of us around him. I don’t know where he is today. I do know, that I feel a sense of loss because I didn’t take the initiative to talk about Jesus with him.
Please hear me. You are the salt and the light of this world. Jesus tells us, it’s why we are here. You are around people who don’t go to church. They don’t have the right picture of who God is. And chances are, when it comes to Jesus, they will only listen to you. To avoid this, to ignore it, means you lose your saltiness, you lose your shine. To avoid this means your Christianity might become boring. Almost like painting by the numbers.
Who do you know, who needs to hear about God’s grace? Here is what you do. Pray. Start praying that God will break through into their lives. Pray that God will give you a moment to talk to them about who Jesus is to you. And then you go and be a real friend.
I want to follow up with you and ask another question. Is this what you thought Christianity was? Jesus turns to you and say, “You are the salt, you are the light.” Jesus, in this Sermon on the Mount, shares the beatitudes and them boom; says, “You are salt, you are the light.” Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Gather around me disciples. Now go find the perfect church that meets your needs. In that church, do the least possible ad build your kingdom on this earth and expect your pastor to build God’s kingdom.” No, Jesus said, “You are the salt, you are the light.”
I believe, most North American Christians walk this earth dazed, confused and tired. Why? Because they don’t realize, they are the salt, they are the light. They don’t understand who they are so they go to church. They sit in worship sets. They look for programs. They are looking for bigger homes, newer cars, bigger incomes, great vacations while people around them are spiritually dying and unless they give their lives to Christ, are going to hell.
Hear me, I’m not trying to be edgy but when we live like this, by our actions, we are telling people, “I found Jesus and I’m really not going to do a thing for you. You might go to hell but I am getting the better vacation.” Again, please know I am not trying to edgy but please think about that. No, vacations are great, enjoy them. If you can get a better job, get it. You know what I am saying-right?!? Please don’t miss understand this. You are the salt. You are the light. That’s who you are. So, go bring out the God flavors and the God colors of this world.
Who do you know who needs God’s love, grace and acceptance?