Some thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount

When thinking about the SOTM, I really think there's a lifetime of goals in those words of Jesus.  Sad to say, I haven't heard a lot of sermons or talking about them though.  We seem to zone in faster on the words of Paul and Peter than we do Jesus, many times.  Rather than seeking to grow closer to God I think we more often pride ourselves in our "rightness" and "tightness" with our religious group.  Right out of the chute we are at odds with a basic truth that challenges us from His sermon - being poor in spirit.  How does that fit in to pride in religious knowledge and rightness?

I also wonder about our mourning for the condition of folks around us. I think there are two reasons for this. Religion has exchanged the NT meaning of the word 'unbeliever' from an unbeliever in God to an unbeliever in 'OUR way of doing things.' I wonder how many us actually KNOW and/or associate with a true unbeliever? I think most pretty well cloister themselves safely away from those folks. We don't mourn for people who 'do church' differently than we do - we just dismiss them. We don't try to introduce God into the lives of the folks who don't know Him - shoot - we pride ourselves on making sure we don't allow our lives to come into contact with theirs, so I really think that mourning aspect is non-existent in much of the religious world today.

When we get to mercy - I think that's when the light is REALLY shown on America's failure. I believe mercy is totally tied into poor in spirit. I don't think it means pity - which has a flavor of looking down on someone who is less fortunate than you are and either patting them on the head - or maybe helping them. I think mercy is being AMONG folks and not looking down on them, one reason being that you realize you ARE among them - and in need of mercy from others in just the same manner. I think true mercy comes from a heart broken because you have been in a similar situation to that person - your heart breaks for them because you know. This is where I part company with folks who believe that God answers prayers to keep them from the jams and woes of life - because those very jams are what makes us pliable enough for Him to use us in helping others. Mercy is being used up in helping others - of course money is a part of that - but it's not only seen there. An example - what would be the difference in action and feeling of a protester outside an abortion clinic - holding up a sign - yelling for the camera - blocking the door from young girls entering vs. a quiet young lady trying to talk to a girl who's about to enter. The young lady standing outside has had an abortion, or maybe simply wrestled with the decision herself - and she knows how the enormity of the girl's decision will plague her the rest of her life - something that the girl can't begin to understand in her moment of shock and grief. She knows how the girl is going to feel a year from now - 5 years from now due to the consequences of the decision. She also knows the hopelessness the girl is feeling, having  no where to turn and no idea how she can raise the child. Who is showing mercy?

I don't see mercy much today - do you?

A couple of days ago I read a book and it has a great little story that I think shows mercy - here's part of it:

It talks about 3 types of religious folks - the first group is those who are pioneers and march in front of their followers, the second group is the religious couch potatoes - they aren't there to minister but to be minstered to.

"The third group are those who follow, they are the ambulance corps of humanity; they are the sacrificial souls that come on behind . I think with John that these last are the most beautiful souls of all. They are lovely in their unobtrusiveness; they do not wish to lead, choosing rather to be in the rear; they come forward only when others are driven backward. They want no glory from the battle, no wreath for the victory, no honourable mention among the heroes. They seek the wounded, the dying, the dead; they anoint for life's burial, they bring spices for the crucified, they give the cup of cold water; they wash the soiled feet. They break the fall of Adam; of Magdalene. They take in Saul of Tarsus after he becomes blind. They are attracted by defects, they are lured by every form of helplessness.

Give me the trouble without the glitter, O Lord! Let others lead! I am content to follow. Help me to serve Thee in the background! Is it not written they that tarry at home divide the spoil? I cannot fight Thy battles, but I can nurse Thy wounded. I cannot repel Thy foes but I can repair Thy fortress. I cannot conduct Thy marches, but I can succor those who have fainted by the way.
Write my name amongst those who follow Thee!" George Matheson