He had taught about: how to lead a happy and blessed life, how to live a life of rich relationship with God and man, how to actively love, how to pray, how to live unburdened by care, how to live a life of freedom and forgiveness, and how to live a life that makes a difference. He packed a lot into the 3 chapters we call the Sermon on the Mount.
This week we studied the final section of this power packed sermon. Jesus says those who “do” these things are like ‘wise builders’. James in his letter reiterates what Jesus says here, “Be doers of the word not hearers only”. Jesus has explained how to live as citizens of the Kingdom of God and now says that if we follow his prescription for citizenship we will be like ‘wise builders’.
He also makes clear that storms will come and assail us. The southern United States has experienced wave after wave of storms. Sometimes life can be like that. Recently I’ve been in the midst of storms with death upon death and sadness upon sadness. Jesus does not say that there will not be storms, in fact he indicates that they will inevitable come into our lives. No one lives an unscathed life! He does promise that if we practise the behaviours of citizenship, we place ourselves in the position to weather the storm. Our active participation in these Kingdom activities are signs of wisdom.
He goes on to say that those who hear but do not do these things are foolish. A careful reading shows that he is not addressing those who do not hear. The thrust of this warning is to those of us who have heard but chose to live by our own set of values.
The people marvelled “He speaks like someone who knows what he is talking about!” This is often translated “He speaks with authority.” This does not mean he has a stern style that commands obedience but rather that it was apparent to his hearers that he knew what he was talking about. He was ‘Exhibit A’ for the sermon. He lived it and he spoke it! He was able to weather the storms because he practised what he preached.
Lots of us read the Beatitudes as a set of ideals too lofty for us but Jesus intended that they be lived out so that we and all creation might be “blessed”. That they are too lofty for me, alone, may be the point. I need the help of God to live as a citizen of his Kingdom. The sermon tells me that our Father will not withhold any such help.
Our little Street Hope community is littler today. We are going through a storm as we deal with our grief at the loss of our dear friend who was at the heart of our community. A week from tomorrow we will gather to remember and laugh and cry as we celebrate the life of ‘Big Donnie.’