Summary: People who belong to God’s kingdom should live as such.
People of the Kingdom
Woodlawn Baptist Church
February 1, 2004
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them…”
I have thought long and hard this week for some fanciful way of introducing today’s subject, for some thing that I could say or do, some joke or story that would set up the thoughts that I will present, but I have been at a loss for such a thing. This morning we are going to begin a series through what has become best known to us as The Sermon on the Mount, the sermon Jesus delivered early in His ministry that constitutes the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew’s gospel. It is not my intention to rush through the Lord’s sermon, and in fact there is no need to, for there is much more here than we will be able to draw out in a very long time.
Perhaps an explanation of why I feel compelled to begin this series would be in order. I mentioned to you last week the term “Christianity Lite.” It is not original with me, but I want to use it and hope that it will stick in your minds. Christianity Lite is that form of Christianity that tastes great – but is less filling. It is Christianity with all the show and go and hoopla, but which has very little substance to it. It is Christianity that concerns itself with feelings and emotions and getting people stirred up, but gives them little to build their faith upon, that which we need to sustain us in the dark hours, those trying moments when we have been backed into a corner and discover what we’re really made of.
Not that there’s anything wrong with feeling and emotion; the Lord’s people show too little of it. We show strong feeling about sports and movies and family, why not show strong feeling about Christ and His Word? We get emotional over dogs and cats and kids, why not get emotional when someone is saved or when someone rejects Christ? We have become so indifferent and reserved in our expressions of feeling and emotion concerning our faith that people mistake us for not caring too much about it. However, as much as we are lacking in the area of feeling and emotion, we are more lacking of people with a deep faith, with deep and strong convictions, of people who would be willing not only to give their lives for what they believe, but people who would live their lives for those beliefs.
There is such a wide spectrum of people who claim to believe in Christ and live for Him today. There are those who really do: people who are in their Bibles daily, people who are praying, people who are in church every opportunity they get, enjoying the fellowship of other believers and serving God in every way they know how. Some of you are that kind of believer. Others who claim to be believers and followers of Christ are not quite so radical. “There’s more to life than church” they say. These are those who will attend church, at least on Sunday mornings, who own Bibles and bring them to church, but still have trouble finding the various books when they are called out. They usually don’t attend Sunday School or volunteer for places of service – though they might agree to do something if asked. Most Sunday nights and Wednesday nights they are at home or work, doing something else, because, after all – they have a life and need their rest and all that good stuff. Some of you are this kind of believer this morning and you know it – and I want to suggest to you that anytime you say to yourself or someone else that “you have a life” as a reason not to serve or attend church, you are spurning the very thing you say you believe, because following Christ is not something you add to your busy life, following Christ is to be your life. There are still others for whom Christianity and church are all right, but when something better comes along they will be gone. Family comes before Christ. Recreation comes before Christ. Work comes before Christ. Bed comes before Christ – and there are some of you who are like this as well.
If I may quote one of the great preachers of our day, “I do not think it a harsh judgment to say that the most obvious feature of the life of the Christian Church today is…its superficiality.” I realize that some of you are serious about your faith, but I know just as well that there are some of you who could take it or leave it. It is beyond me to try to explain to you how the Lord leads me to preach anything, so let me just say that I am compelled to lead you in a study of what the Lord taught concerning what it means to be a follower of Him. Before we dive into the specifics of the Sermon on the Mount though, I want you to think with me about what has led the Lord to preach this sermon. Look at Matthew 4:23 and following.