“Culture of the Kingdom”
As a father of three children, I experienced something that apparently is common at the coming of child number three. The first two were so opposite, I assumed that the third had to fall somewhere in between the first two. But his differences were so outside of the characteristics of the first two, it created a completely new set of contrasts.
Let me propose that Matthew 5 is like that third child. There is (and always has been) a view of the successful person. They are self-made, laser focused, and hard driving. Let’s contrast that to someone we would consider having little character and ethics. They would be self centered, lazy, and hard to get along with. The credo for the successful person would be “If I can dream it, I can achieve it.” For the one of low character it would be, “Look out for number one.”
Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount tells of a completely different credo; a third child, if you would. It is a credo that values being meek, pure, hungry, merciful, and persecuted. We get lulled to sleep sometimes by its familiarity. But try to bring Jesus’s credo as the driving document for an NFL team, or driven sales team, or at the local country club. At that point you realize how shocking and counter culture the words of Jesus are.
As we are living our lives between the Garden of Eden and the Garden with gates of Pearl, we do so with a credo, a set of values. Those values are influenced by our surroundings. First, we need to be shocked by the Matthew 5 value system. Second, we need to find people who are truly living out those values. And thirdly we need to study, unpack, and read it some more. We need to actively pursue those values if we want to live between the gardens as Christ is instructing us to do so.
1. What is counter culture about the Sermon on the Mount?
2. Who do you know that is living in that culture?