Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Dear Linwood Family and Friends,
Studying the Sermon on the Mount in order to “do better” as a Christian is like me taking on Labron James one-on-one in order to “get better” as a basketball player!
Let me explain:
“Faith, Family, and Friendship” is the banner that we are flying over the 2014 Linwood season. Each Sunday morning we are exploring “Faith’s Foundation” as we hear messages based on the Sermon on the Mount. While many of the words and expressions in the Sermon are familiar, this is really tough stuff!
Everybody in one way or another establishes some kind of standard for their life – something that serves as a measuring stick. Every so often we hold up that measuring stick and ask, “How am I doing?”
Where do we get that standard? “Faith, family, and friends” would be a good answer. For some the measuring stick for life is determined by their faith. For others, their family growing up – its values, expectations, dreams – deeply impacts their understanding of what it means to succeed. And, of course, friends (“keeping up with the Jones”, “peer pressure”) have always had their impact as well.
While some embrace the standards of their faith, their family, or their friends, there are others who totally reject those standards and head in the opposite direction. Some wind up with standards based on what “feels good.” Some choose a measuring stick that makes them look good by comparison.
If it were simply up to me, I would prefer to adopt a standard for my life that stretches me – but not too much! I want something is a challenge – but not took far out there! I want something that requires some work – but also provides a lot of reassurance along the way.
If I were looking for something to help me live a better life, I would not choose The Sermon on the Mount! That would be like thinking that going one-on-one with Labron James would make me a better basketball player! If you wan’t to “do better,” do not try to do it by means of the Sermon on the Mount. The Kingdom Life – as described by Jesus in the Sermon – is too far out there! It cannot be done – at least not by trying hard.
That, of course, is the point.
The Kingdom Life is so radically different that it can never be lived by “trying harder.” It is not a matter of us upping our game.
Life – as it is described by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount – can only be lived by surrender and obedience. It begins with surrender – letting go of any illusion of our own righteousness, and acknowledging that Christ’s call is to whole new kind of life. And then, that life is lived through obedience, not accomplishment.
Does that mean that the Kingdom Life does not require our “effort”? NO! But our efforts are focused more on trusting than trying.
I know that this is not the way that we normally see things. This is not how we usually endeavor to improve or grow. Yet, it is the only way that we can truly embrace the life that Christ has made possible for us in His life, death, and resurrection. I am sure we will be talking more about this as the summer progresses.
Don’t forget to check out the online edition of The Breeze (available on Friday, go to http://linwoodcouncil.org/home/?page_id=2. For those of you in the Park, printed copies of the Breeze will be delivered to your cottage.
Weekday Bible Study begins next Thursday (June 12) from 9:30–10:30 a.m. in the Chapel. Most weeks I will be leading that class. We will also be going through The Sermon on the Mount.
Blessings in Christ,
Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor
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