Jun 27 6 Comments

Are we just the so-called believers?

Warning: There will be some pretty meaty stuff in this blog. Read only if you have the nerve for it.

Last week I received an email from a good friend. He forwarded it from a good friend of his. What was in the email has stuck with me this week. Hateful words that makes it impossible for me to keep on living for myself, and still call myself a Christian.

The author of the email talked about meeting a Christian man who frustrated said this: “Nobody lives the Sermon on the Mount. Show me someone living the Sermon on the Mount.”

I think the same frequently. My finger easily points to others who call themselves Christians, but who seem to think that the Sermon on the Mount was just a collection of nice thoughts and ideas of Utopia, not instructions on how to live a life according to Jesus.

I don’t know many who live the Sermon on the Mount. I would like to, but my self-centered nature comes in the way too often.

The author of the email then said that the man he had met was not the only one who had searched for true faith. Leo Tolstoy did the same in 19th century Russia. In his Confessions, we can read him say this:

Naturally I first of all turned to the orthodox of my circle, to people who were learned: to Church theologians, monks, to theologians of the newest shade, and even to Evangelicals who profess salvation by belief in the Redemption. And I seized on these believers and questioned them as to their beliefs and their understanding of the meaning of life.

But though I made all possible concessions, and avoided all disputes, I could not accept the faith of these people. I saw that what they gave out as their faith did not explain the meaning of life but obscured it…I was repelled by the fact that these people’s lives were like my own, with only this difference–that such a life did not correspond to the principles they expounded in their teachings. I clearly felt that they deceived themselves and that they, like myself found no other meaning in life than to live while life lasts, taking all one’s hands can seize. I saw this because if they had had a meaning which destroyed the fear of loss, suffering, and death, they would not have feared these things. But they, these believers of our circle…feared privations, suffering, and death, and just like myself and all of us unbelievers, lived to satisfy their desires, and lived just as badly, if not worse, than the unbelievers.

No arguments could convince me of the truth of their faith. Only deeds which showed that they saw a meaning in life making what was so dreadful to me–poverty, sickness, and death–not dreadful to them, could convince me. And such deeds I did not see among the various believers in our circle. On the contrary, I saw such deeds done by people of our circle who were the most unbelieving, but never by our so-called believers.

Ouch!

I want to live differently. I try to. I try to do good. But I also have to admit that I frequently meet others, non-Christians, who do just as good of a job as me, if not better, in the pursuit of righteousness and peace. The author of the email I read struggles with the same: Do we really have the power to live differently from those around us? As Tolstoy put it, without fear of loss, suffering and death? In other words, can we live out the Sermon on the Mount? Give up our possessions. Bless those who hurt us. Lay up our treasure in heaven, he says.

He then quoted Bonhoffer who said this:

We have listened to the Sermon on the Mount and perhaps have understood it. But who has heard it aright? Jesus gives the answer at the end. He does not allow his hearers to go away and make of his sayings what they will, picking and choosing from them whatever they find helpful, and testing them to see if they work….Humanly speaking, we could understand and interpret the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways. Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience, not interpreting it or applying it, but doing and obeying it….Jesus has spoken: his is the word, ours the obedience.
(The Cost of Discipleship).

Tonight as I am sitting looking at the evening sky that never grows dark. As I am safe in my home, dressed and full, I am again reminded that everything I have is a gift given to me, and I am supposed to share. I have been given some instructions. They are not easy, but they are clear.

6 Comments

  • Rick says:

    So now what?

  • Jack says:

    I have attempted to live the sermon on the mount, and have failed miserably in my trying. And this was done as a Spirit filled Christian, or at least that’s what we called ourselves at the time. I finally gave up in disgust, and decided that I cannot do what Our Lord has said for us to do – at least not of myself!
    Through much of God dealing with me and unraveling much of who I think I am, God has opened my eyes to see that within me lies no good thing, and apart from Him I am useless. All of my best efforts are as nothing to the Lord, only what is birthed of His Spirit shall have any lasting value at all. We only become proud and judge mental when we set out to prove to God and to ourselves that we are worthy followers of Christ. We are so unworthy it is not even funny, and if we finally see this in His light, then we are able to receive from Him and at that point wait upon Him to be directed by Him to what He specifically has called us to. The sermon on the Mount was given, so that we might understand that we cannot ever reach this type of life – that there was only one who ever could and only one who today ever will be able to walk this divine life out. The word SURRENDER means ” I give up”. God is looking for brokenness, not a bunch of gung ho christians ready to take on the world. Christ in you is your only hope of ever obtaining glory ( and He doesn’t mean Heaven by this ). The Apostle Paul put it this way: ” It is no longer I Who live, but Christ lives in me,” It is He that does the works – that’s how God gets the glory. I believe that God wants to do greater things through us than we can ever imagine, but He cannot until we learn what it is to get out of the way. I know this is not popular, but if you can receive it, it will truly set you free for our Lord. Jack O.

  • maureen says:

    Keep reminding us, me, that we cannot ignore the Truth. I may stumble, but I want so much to live the way the Sermon on the Mount calls me to live. I pray my heart continues to convict me when I take the easy road….

  • Linda Busklein says:

    Awesome! I think a lot about this, wonder how big the log in my own eye is, and pray for the ability to see it. Some of the stuff I have seen has not been so pretty, but it feels good to realize it and try to get rid of the garbage pile. I wonder what happens next. I am sure it will be exciting and fabulous in the end even if initially difficult.
    It is like a good thriller with lots of twists in the plot. Just when you thought you had it figured out…

  • Jean Clink says:

    I had always thought that I was a Fundamentalist, meaning, fundamentally Christian, but my new dear husband taught me that there is a thing called ‘Fundamentalism’ which holds the belief that the Sermon on the Mount is for a different age in the future. He showed me the footnote in the Scofield Bible that says such, and then his dear brother, preacher of a large church, tried to convert me to this way of seeing things. No. Jesus wants us to be His disciples.

    It is a process. I had a friend who gave away all her nice clothing in an effort to obey the Sermon on the Mount, and then she had nothing to wear on a job interview. Another friend gave all her money to a visiting evangelist, then she had nothing to pay her rent. Be blessed. Jean

    • oddnygumaer says:

      I agree. We are called to be Jesus’ disciples and to follow his example. That will also mean being generous with our possessions. But I don’t think it means we should be stupid about it. Giving all our clothes away and then have nothing to wear is not what Jesus would want us to do in my opinion. Neither is giving all our money away and not have enough to pay our bills. I guess it is up to each one of us to ask the Lord what he wants us to do. Thanks for your insight. O

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