Words matter. For every generation, there is a speech that stands the test of time. For some Americans, it might be “The Gettysburg Address” or “I Have a Dream.” They become imbedded inside our minds and hearts, opening our eyes to a new way of living and stirring our lives to greater commitment.
For Christians, the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ speech that defines each generation of believers. If you want to know what a Christian strives to be and do, look no further than this speech. The Gospel of Matthew collects Jesus’ teachings into three chapters to train disciples living on mission for him. Matthew 5-7 isn’t everything Jesus taught, but it’s the best example for us in one speech of what he said and what we are to do right now. The Sermon on the Mount gives us a vision for life today and criteria for making decisions in the world. Like any good oration, the sermon holds up the mirror of Jesus’ words to our lives. It causes us to gaze deeply into our hearts and the lives of those around us. It elevates our perspective to a higher and more meaningful way of living. It shapes the character of disciples for generations.
This weekend, Matt Reynolds and our breakout session leaders will be teaching us how to “Live Sent,” to be missionaries in communities right here in Tallahassee. What kind of lifestyle choices do we need to make in order to live this way? The Sermon on the Mount tells us. Jesus’ message provides an alternative Way based on a life that “Seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This higher level of righteousness means that disciples will be salt and light in a world of darkness. People live with their identity centered around who God in Christ created them to be. The Sermon tells us what it means to be fully human, to be blessed, and by so doing build our lives on the rock of Jesus Christ.
Beginning February 16, I want to invite you to hear, read, and study the Sermon from the “Inside Out.” To begin the series, I’ll be reciting the Sermon on the Mount from memory in both services. The word of God was first heard before it was read, and these chapters take about 20-25 minutes to perform. By listening together, it changes how we hear and imagine a new way of living. These words become like seeds watered by the spirit of God and sprouting forth like fruit in our lives.
Each Sunday from February 23–March 23, we’ll take a look at a different passage within the Sermon to give us a new vision of life focused on Christ and criteria for making decisions every day according to this vision. By committing to Jesus’ words, we pledge our allegiance to him as Lord.