Breaking down the Sermon on the Mount

Published 5:22 pm Saturday, October 15, 2016

By Larry Stover
Stover lives in Valley Grande and is pastor at Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene

I have always been fascinated and drawn to the “Sermon on the Mount” found in the Gospel of Matthew chapters five through seven. It is the composite of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I’ve been telling people for decades that if you can grasp the spiritual depth of that sermon, you will have a grasp of the Christian faith.

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When Jesus was speaking to the crowd that day, he was not addressing the skeptics and cynics of the day, rather, he was addressing disciples and serious followers who walked with him throughout the region of Galilee.

The message of the “Sermon on the Mount” is not about how to “get saved” or become a “born again” Christian.  It deals with characteristics of being a true disciple, those serious about becoming a real follower.  One might say that it covers the behavior, attitudes and actions of individuals who move beyond a head knowledge of Jesus to someone who lives after his principles day after day.

When you read these three chapters in Matthew, you realize very quickly that people with no relationship with Jesus Christ seldom apply these truths to their lives. The moral, ethical and spiritual standards of the sermon are beyond the grasp of an unbelieving world.

There are to very powerful metaphors found in Matthew 5:13-16.  Those verses read, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.”

Salt and light seem like harmless metaphors until put into a Christian context.

Christians are to be the “Salt of the Earth.”  Just as salt makes food taste better, believers are to make the world around them a better place.  It is all about the power of Christian Influence. There is something about “Godly” influence. We all know Christians who reflect Jesus in such a way that we like to be around them.

If we claim to be a believer and do not reflect that godliness, then, like salt that has lost its saltiness, we have no value to the Kingdom of God. If you fall into that category, you have little or no positive Christian influence in your circle of friends.

Jesus was referred to as the “light of the world.”  I find it very interesting that he also calls on his followers to be “lights” as well.  They were called upon to possess such a Godly influence that they brought light into a world of darkness that had lost its moral compass. Jesus admonished his disciples to so reflect Christian principles in their thoughts, words, and deeds every day that they might “glorify (their) father in heaven.”

The Christian faith has taken many “hits” recently.  There is a desperate need in 2016 to see more Christians of “good character.” We cannot withdraw from the world. On the contrary, we need to be seen in the world as people with a positive Christian influence.

I refuse to misrepresent Jesus Christ. If there are inconsistencies in your life, ask the Lord to forgive you. Many Christians are having an identity crisis these days.

The power of our influence multiplies when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Being Christian “salt and Light” will always make our lives “Simply Beautiful.”