This Sunday, Feb. 5, we continue in our sermon series from the Sermon on the Mount, titled Living the Kingdom Lifestyle. This week's emphasis is "Maximizing our Kingdom Impact." Last week, we looked at how the Beatitudes begin to form our kingdom orientation. An orientation has to do with identity and practice; the latter flows from the former. Only when we have intentionally developed an identity — which deals with how we understand who we are and who we are in relation to God and others — are we able to live out the blessed life that Jesus teaches in Matthew 5-7.
Here is Matthew 5:13-20:
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
I want to focus on the first few verses. Jesus uses two images to convey how Christians are to maximize their impact for the kingdom of God: to be salt & a lamp. Let's look at salt first. Salt adds flavor and turns that which was bland into something delicious. Salt also is a preservative; in the ancient world - and even today - it is used to keep certain foods from spoiling. But Jesus also conveys a harsh reality: salt can lose its potency, and therefore be useless to the job it was intended to do. How do we, as Christians, keep our saltiness? How might we maximize our potency for the kingdom?
We are also a lamp. The lamp is placed on a stand, illuminating the area around it. It allows people to move freely. It allows for unhindered work and unfettered play. It dispels the fear and uncertainty that comes when people are in darkness. When we bring the flavor of the kingdom to the world around us; when we live in such a way that illuminates the reality of the presence of God's reign in our world today — we maximize our impact for God.
What can YOU do as one person— what can WE do as a church — to maximize our kingdom impact? Jesus gives us salt and light. What images/metaphors would you use to describe how Christians are to live in this world as we point others toward God?
After taking a few weeks off from posting my "first thoughts" on the upcoming Sunday's scriptures, I'm back to write about an exciting new sermon series that will begin Sunday, January 29.
This sermon series will focus on the following sections of the Sermon on the Mount (a body of Jesus' teaching found in Matthew 5-7):
Week 1: Living the Kingdom Lifestyle: Developing a Kingdom Orientation (Mt 5:1-12)
Week 2: Living the Kingdom Lifestyle: Maximizing our Kingdom Impact (Mt 5:13-20)
Week 3: Living the Kingdom Lifestyle: Maturing in Kingdom Relationships (Mt 5:21-37)
Week 4: Living the Kingdom Lifestyle: Strengthening our Kingdom Commitments (Mt 5:38-48)
On Sunday, 1/29, we begin this series by examining the familiar teachings of Jesus called the "Beatitudes." Jesus teaches that those who live out the orientation(s) described in these teachings are those who are "favored by God." We will think and talk together Sunday about how we can develop this orientation that runs so counter the popular culture. Read Matthew 5:1-12 now, and feel free to jump into the discussion using the comments section of this blog! What do these teachings say to you?