“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” — Jesus (Matthew 5:38-48)
It would seem to me that in Western Americanized Christianity, we have lost our way, and maybe even forgotten what the road we are supposed to be on even looks like. Ever since Jesus spoke these words two millennia ago, followers and non-followers alike have read these words and felt that Jesus was pretty clear. Sometimes Jesus speaks in parables and we have to figure it out. But this teaching was different. Jesus speaks plainly here and then lives a life demonstrating exactly what He means, all the way down to the manner of His death. How did we get from the clear teaching of Jesus to today where we, as Christians in America, celebrate July 4th as a Christian holiday, fly American Flags in our churches, identify ourselves as Americans first and Christians second (rather than strangers, foreigners, ambassadors for a Kingdom that is not of this world), and to John Hagee’s now famous prayer that God would, in the Name of Jesus, lead this country in our wars and that the angels of heaven would go before American troops against “our” enemies. How did we get here?
Today we have a series of reasons and justifications that circumvent our application of these words in their truest meaning. In our application we say that Jesus teaching on this subject is only for certain groups, certain time periods, or certain cultural circumstances. But the fact that Jesus taught the way of peace is obvious to everybody. Christians today just find unique ways to circumvent its application to our lives.
Today we have gone from a rule with no exceptions (this is how the first three hundred years of Christian history interpreted Jesus teaching), to believing that there were certain exceptions to Jesus’ teaching, then from exceptions being admitted to exceptions being embraced. Today, exceptions are now lived by more than the rule. The exceptions are seen as the rule and the teachings of Jesus are seen as the exception. How did this happen?
This series of e-Sights and Podcasts could not be more important right now. Your understanding on this topic, I will freely admit, is deeply determined by whether your picture of God looks like Jesus or something else. Most of the time, Renewed Heart Ministries is a ministry with a goal of humbly serving the world with a call to non-followers of Jesus to consider the radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered teachings of Jesus. But in this series, we are not calling those who are non-followers to consider the teachings of Jesus. We are calling those who claim to follow Jesus to take a serious look at the actual teachings of Jesus. This series is focused uniquely toward “Christians,” asking them to change the direction of their lives and begin following Jesus. It’s a call to Christians to repent. It transcends denominations and reaches to the central core of what, for the first three hundred years of Christianity, it meant to be a follower of “the way.” At its heart, the Kingdom was about following the way of peace.
The words above are from Herb Montgomery of Renewed Heart Ministries in his weekly update from 5-27-2012. Click here to read it all. This was the introduction to Herb’s 11-part series on the “Active Non-Violence of Jesus.” For those who like to listen to podcasts you can download or listen to all eleven episodes here, or find his ministry on iTunes and download the eleven messages that were given from May 29 to October 1, 2012. You will be blessed, I promise you!
Do you call yourself a follower of Jesus? Is your house built on a foundation of solid rock or is your foundation built on sand? The Creator of the Universe sent His Son to teach us what it means to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and sons and daughters within His family. The very first message that Jesus gave to us about His Father’s Kingdom was the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, ending with the parable of the foundations. If you hear the words of Jesus and DO them, your house is built on rock, but if you hear and IGNORE them, then your house is built on sand and will be swept away.
The Sermon on the Mount is absolutely foundational to the Christian life. Let’s get back to basics, and spiritually gear up for the greatest move of God to ever impact the world here in these end-times. We need to repent, turn back to Jesus, and follow His instructions for living a life based on forgiveness, peace, love, and the awesome power of the Holy Ghost!
P.S. – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you choose to listen to these teachings. They have to be the foundation of the revolution that the Bride of Christ is being called to lead!