Was I love when no one else would show up / Was I Jesus to the least of those / Was my worship more than just a song… / Am I proof that You are who you say You are / That grace can really change a heart / Do I live like Your love is True / People pass, and even if they don’t know my name is there evidence that I’ve been changed / When they see me do they see You? – Sidewalk Prophets, Live Like That from the 2012 album of the same title.
Matthew chapter five begins the longest recorded sermon the Son of Man ever gave during His time on earth which would suggest perhaps we should pay special attention to it. Unfortunately, what I see happening in the church today would lead me to believe otherwise. Christ begins with the Beatitudes and quickly delves into how those who claim to be His should live. Several points challenge me…
First of all, I notice that crowds came from across Judea to follow the Christ, which begs the question: Does what I say and do draw people from far and near? This leads me to believe the gospel should be one of attraction and demands I live accordingly. It’s also extremely inclusive. Notice the disciples did not screen those in attendance first to see if they were worthy. This would suggest a global view which the church seems to lack nowadays.
Secondly, in everything He says, Jesus makes it clear that those who follow Him are to serve others whether it’s by being a light on a hill or salt from a shaker. I must affect others positively just as seasoning beings out the best flavor in food and preserves it from being spoiled. More importantly, when it comes to serving others I must give up an insistence on my own rights. And, furthermore, I must give freely to those that ask of me without expecting anything in return. Finally, in serving others, obeying God’s law is more important than explaining it to others. And giving justice and mercy is more important than receiving it.
How different I see this to be than what currently resides in many Christian Leaders of today like Joel Osteen and other megachurch pastors, conservative political leaders, and right-wing pundits on TV. I’ve listened to people like this – who claim to follow God or even speak for Him – and I don’t see the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount in them or their actions. They tend to be divisive and exclusionary. They seem to be in whatever field of work for themselves and what it can bring them. They seem to worship power, position, and money. I know these statements do not cover everyone in these positions; there are exceptions.
But I don’t know what is more alarming – that these people act like they do or that they do it with impunity; without scolding from the church. The horrible result is that those outside the church see the church, and by extension – the Christ, as all of these negative things. And the Son of Man, who is so incredibly attractive to me, is tarnished and discarded. It can be different in this America. It must be different in this America. And in the world. The church must get out of politics and start being the servant of the Christ and His lost people. I want to live like that. You?