Monday, September 17, 2007

Graceful Sinners

Yesterday at church, our whole Sunday School lesson was on The Sermon on the Mount. Kind of silly to squeeze that whole Sermon preached by none other than Jesus Himself into one little lesson. It was kind of strange since our pastor spent almost a year preaching a series of sermons on the same subject last year. Unfortunately, the Sermon on the Mount is too lengthy to post here (you can read it yourself in Matthew 5, ,7, & 7). Trying to cover everything Jesus addressed in one hour is like trying to drink the ocean dry with a straw in a day (which is also impossible even with those big, fat McDonald's straws).

We were given a discussion question by our teacher yesterday that really made me think. He asked, "Which of the points in The Sermon on the Mount is most challenging for you personally ?" In small groups, we all went around the circle and told what we found most challenging. Some of the answers were worry, being judgemental, meekness, doing things for men's applause, etc. etc. When it came time for me to answer, I was sweating because I knew there was no way I could pick just one. I could not pick three. I didn't want to look like a total freak and say "Each and every one of those areas Jesus talked about is a stumbling block to me", but I should have.

Here are most of the areas Jesus covered in this sermon:

murder, adultery, peacemaking, let your yes be yes and no be no, turn the other cheek, love your neighbor, love your enemies, do not do righteous acts for men's applause, forgive, don't store up treasures on earth, don't love money, don't worry, seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, don't judge, don't throw your pearls to swine (I will address this in another post sometime), and do unto others as you would have GOD do unto you.

There are a lot of rules there. I could go on for days how I have failed in each of those areas (ie. I murdered Jesus, I have committed adultery in my heart, etc, etc). On the way home from church, my husband and I talked about how we could never live up to all those requirements -- no one could, except Jesus. Then it hit me, maybe the whole point in Jesus' preaching was to encourage people to strive toward those things, but also to make them see that they could never achieve all of them by their own strength. His Sermon on the Mount was helping point these people in the crowd that day to the grace that was soon to come from the Cross. He knew that none of those people listening that day could actually keep every one of those commands. He also knew that He was going to die so that if they did break one of those commands, they would not be condemned to die. If it weren't for the grace of God, I would be on a slippery slope straight to hell. That makes me a graceful sinner. I am a murdering, lying, thieving, attention-craving, money-loving, earth treasure-storing, judging person. So, in order to save me from myself and what I deserve, He sent Jesus to die.

Sometimes, I think we get so caught up in trying to be perfect we forget that WE dont have to be perfect. Jesus is perfect and He sacrificed Himself for us. He put Himself in our miserable, sorry place. There is no sense in beating ourselves up for the terrible things we do on a daily basis. God knows our hearts, more importantly He knows we arent perfect. That's why He sent Jesus. Sometimes, I just need to remind myself of these things. Maybe you do too.


He Knows My Name said...

great post - i'll read it tonight before bed with feash thoughts. thanks!


Renee said...

This is a reminder that we can never hear enough. The pastor at my church back in CO recently gave a sermon on mercy. He talked about how it is new everyday.

He talked about how easy it is to stand before the Throne and ask for mercy. Once. And think that that is all you need. But in actuality, most of us need to go right from the front of the line to the back of it...mercy is something we need (and receive) every day.

Good thoughts for today...thanks for sharing!