Summary: Preached at the "Sermon at the Mount" in Rogers, OH at the Lake Mount Church of Christ.
None of us want to be average. I doubt that anyone got up this morning and thought to themselves, “I want to see how bad I can look today.” Now, before you judge me realize God made me this way.
None of us want to simply be average. Parents do not dream about their children being underachievers. Parents want what is best for them. We desire to have excellence in our lives.
The good news for the Christian is that God wants you to have a life of excellence. Jesus said Himself in John 10:10 that He came for us to have “life to the full.” Meaning, Christ wants us to have an excellent quality of life. The world’s definition of quality differs from what Jesus’ definition is. But regardless, Jesus calls His followers to live at a higher level.
I have read about a monument to a rescue worker in the Alps Mountains. There was a group of mountain climbers who were stranded in a snow storm. A rescue team was sent out for them, but in the midst of the rescue, one of the rescuers was overcome by the conditions and passed away. They set up a monument to this rescuer and the monument says these words, “He died climbing.”
As a Christian I think that would be a great way to be remembered after I have left this world… “He died climbing.” I want to go out climbing for that higher level that Jesus calls us to.
In the book of Matthew we see Jesus begin His ministry on earth. Jesus went around preaching to people the need to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
When we arrive in Matthew chapter 5, a crowd of Jesus’ followers had seated themselves near Him to listen to Jesus teach. Please note, this is very important, Jesus was speaking to people who were already following Him. The crowd around Jesus had heard His calling to a radical new life.
That is when Jesus begins His most famous discourse on what it means to be a follower of Christ. The Sermon on the Mount is not a gimmick or a pop psychology method of self-improvement. No, what Jesus is going to tell His followers in this sermon is that we are to live at a higher level.
Jesus begins the sermon with the beatitudes. These beatitudes are indicators of a life that has surrendered to God. Max Lucado writes, “Observe the sequence. First, we recognize we are in need (we’re poor in spirit). Next, we repent of our self-sufficiency (we mourn). We quit calling the shots and surrender control to God (we’re meek). So grateful we are for His presence that we yearn for more of Him (we hunger and thirst). As we grow closer to Him, we become more like Him. We forgive others (we’re merciful). We change our outlook (we’re pure in heart). We love others (we’re peacemakers). We endure injustice (we’re persecuted).
It is not a casual shift of attitude. It is a demolition of the old structure and a creation of the new.” (Grace for the Moment, pg. 295)
To advance to the higher level, the old self must be put to death. Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Jesus looks at these new followers of His as He teaches them and begins with how their new life will be. But almost as soon as Jesus starts talking about their new behaviors, Jesus shifts into giving them their higher calling.
Jesus first tells them that they are the salt of the earth. They are to add flavor to the world. They are to be preservatives in the world. But the second name that Jesus calls them is the one I want to zero in on today. Jesus says that His followers are to be light.
Read with me in Matthew 5:14 – 16. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
There are some simple lessons we can learn today from these three verses that will help us live on that higher level Jesus calls us to. The first lesson is this…
WE ARE TO BE DIFFERENT.
Jesus says in verse 14, “You are the light of the world.” There is a contrast that we notice here. The world is dark. We are to be different from the world in our very nature. We are called to brighten the place up.