Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grinding out the Sermon

The Sermon on the Mount, that is. I am co-teaching a high school class at my church on Sundays and we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount since oh, about early December. We're about halfway. I think I once taught Revelation in a shorter time frame than this. But I was younger then... Anyway, it has been really great. Our class is comprised of various age high school students, military academy students, and one young man who is an atheist. There is nothing better for young folks to hear about and to be challenged with than the way Jesus told Christians to live life. The Sermon on the Mount was counter-cultural when it was first given and it is just as counter-cultural today. And that causes a lot of questions.

Questions are great though - I wish more churches did like Erwin McManus does at Mosaic where he incorporates a question and answer time at the end of some of his sermons. People have questions, we need to let them ask them, and do our best to answer. I realized this recently. We (the teachers) dictate what few verses we will study each week, and it's all focused around that narrow topic. We usually end 10-15 minutes before our hour is up so we are using that time now to allow any and all questions that the students may have. Of course, when you allow teenagers to ask "any" question, you don't get easy ones like 'what's the book right after Acts called?' No, we get more of this type - "Why does God always get credit for the good stuff that happens but not the bad stuff He allows too?" "Why do you need God to get through life?" "What is your definition of adultery?"

But this is one of the most important things we can do I think - allow them to ask questions and do our best to answer them. They have the questions in their minds, whether you allow them to ask or not, so wouldn't you rather let people ask and get them closer to figuring things out? I would. We get a lot of questions during class too that point to the problem mainstream Christianity has today. Jesus says, you can't serve both God and Money. Hand goes up - "Don't lots of Christians today do both?" YES! And that's the point! Even among the Christians, these ideas from the Sermon on the Mount are counter-cultural. Hardly anyone actually does them. If they did, Christianity would have quite a different reputation. Is it any wonder that Jesus refers to many of the bad examples as hypocrites, and Christians today are believed to be many things by non-Christians, and one of the main things is hypocritical? It's no surprise. The hypocrites back then were the Jewish leaders. The hypocrites today are many of the Christians still.

The entire Bible is worth studying in depth and reading over and over. It's a work that must be taken as a whole. But if you just want to start living the way a Christian is supposed to - OR if you want to know what those people you know who say they are Christians are supposed to believe and act like - just read the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5 - 7. That will get you started. After Jesus finished preaching that, the people "were amazed." If you want some amazing guidance for your life, read the Sermon. It's life changing!

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