This is post 4 of 4 covering the Sermon on the Mount material presented at White Station Junior High Camp. Again, I want to recommend Randy Harris's book Living Jesus to you as you seek to take the teachings seriously and incorporate them into you life. For a link to the book, go to my post titled, "You are Blessed..."
When it comes to sharing our world with other people, we must practice the generosity of God. If we are truly doing that, we will be less quick to judge other people and more inclined to treat people the way we would want to be treated. Jesus asks us to beware of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that is he is asking us to watch out for hypocrites. Their internal qualities do not match who they are on the outside, and Jesus tells us that this is easily seen by the fruit they produce. There is a warning to us as well, rid ourselves of hypocrisy.
Teaching: Matthew 7:1-23
Judging others (1-6) = Remember that what we see is often the result of what we are looking for...so given that God has been so generous towards us, it goes without saying that we should be generous towards others (or maybe it doesn’t go without saying, because Jesus had to say it.) We must be gracious (blessed are the merciful) towards others, so that they too experience the goodness of God. This will never happen when we rashly judge...never. Interesting enough, Jesus then goes on to call a group of people dogs and pigs. This is how the Jewish audience would have thought about Roman soldiers and Gentile people. Jesus is telling his audience not to give their allegiance to world powers - Taking assurance in Roman power will not give you security. Trusting the Gentile occupiers to supply you with political power will not give you what you really want. We are to trust that God will provide for us..
Ask, Seek, Knock (7-12) = As we ask God, seek God, and knock on God’s door; God will provide for us. (You can keep asking, seeking, and knocking for the approval of other people, and there is no guarantee, actually it looks pretty pessimistic...) God knows how to give us good gifts...as we give to others (that’s always tied in isn’t it??)
Two ways (13-14) = Jesus will return to this in the building images at the very end, but there are two ways, one that seeks popularity and leads to destruction and one way that few really try (maybe it’s harder because it involves a reprogramming of how we think and what we value) but lead to LIFE (not just beyond the grave, but I believe Jesus is saying right here, right now)
Distinguishing False from True Followers (15-23) = There are always going to be many people who do things in the name of Jesus that don’t represent him well.
There is a way of knowing where we stand with Jesus...but we need to understand how Jesus keeps Score...We need to understand what impresses Jesus. (and to be clear, it is not doing miracles, prophesying, casting out demons...which would be marked high in my score keeping. But it also isn’t touchdowns, championship rings, prayers or perfect attendance in school...) Could it be that Jesus is challenging us to compare our lives to his teachings and see where we might produce more fruit:
Rid yourself of hypocrisy. Do you believe Jesus, want to follow Jesus, but you have music, video games, movies, shows, stuff stored on your computer that you know make you a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Get rid of the things in your life that prevent you from being an authentic follower of Jesus. If you haven’t committed to Jesus... then understand that you are not following Jesus until you really commit to him. We are to be committed to Jesus above everything else, then we will be on the right path.
Maybe Try This: When you get home, look at your tweets and/or statuses. Count the ones about yourself, the ones that are judgements of other people, the ones that misrepresent who you really are -- and then count the encouraging ones and the confessional ones and the authentic ones. You will actually have a history of how you are spending your time...
Class Wrap Up: Matthew 7:21-29
The Question for this study was: WHY FOLLOW JESUS, WHY TRUST GOD?
I tried to answer this question by using Jesus’ most famous teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: I argued these points:
Listen to the words of Jesus as he closes his teaching:
The Lesson is yours to do (or to not do) as you want with it...
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.