Building On The Rock

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24)

I am convinced that the words spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are the most important and transformative words that exist.  They are a blueprint to a radical Christian life worth living and dying for.  A life lived faithful to these commands will change the world far more than any Occupy Wall Street protest.  Recently, I've been reading and discussing Matthew 5-7 with some other young people, and we are determined to build on the rock of faith by finding practical ways to live out these teachings, here and now.

Take for instance the words "No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve both God and money."  I understand this to mean that I should devote my entire being to serving others in simple daily acts of love rather than seeking physical comfort and pleasure.  In contrast to a nation that seems committed to the pursuit of material happiness, this is counter-cultural and requires sacrifice.  If the words of the Sermon on the Mount are to be taken seriously though, everything must be given up for the promised goal: the coming of God's Kingdom.

Another verse from Matthew 5:8 confronted us:  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." For me, this means resisting the natural urge to flirt and fall into casual relationships.  If I have pure thoughts and am free from vanity, I will look beyond what others have or wear and find the spark of God that is in every person.  Genuine, honest words and actions must rule my life.  It is impossible for any person to be perfect in this regard, but I believe a bold commitment to purity is a necessity in truly following Jesus.  This struggle for purity starts with self-respect and reverence for the fact that the Kingdom of God is found within everyone.

Reading further through Matthew, do I pray "Your Kingdom come, your will be done…" and mean it? Sincerely asking for God's will - not my will - to be done tests my willingness to listen to him and follow my conscience.  Everything else will become nothing if I truly hunger and thirst for the justice and love promised when God's Kingdom comes to earth.  God's will can be done if every day I pray for guidance to do my part.  As Mother Teresa says:

"We must not think that our love has to be extraordinary.  But we do need to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn?  Through the continuous input of small drops of oil.  These drops are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being quiet, of looking, of speaking and acting.  They are the true drops of love that keep our lives and relationships burning like a lively flame."

Following the Lord's Prayer come the words  "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."  Thinking about this, I am slowly grasping how many opportunities I have each day to forgive instead of holding grudges and building walls of mistrust and tension.  Each time I let an angry thought or minor disagreement come between myself and someone else, I am giving the devil a foothold.

The Sermon on the Mount raises so many questions, questions that speak directly to us today:  What does it mean not to worry about food and clothing when the gap between the wealthy and the poor in our nation widens every year and people throughout the world are starving?  Do I always go the extra mile?  How do I turn the other cheek?  How and where does "love your enemies" apply if I care only for the people from whom I will get something in return?  These are some of the questions my friends and I have been grappling with.

We do not have all the answers but are inspired to let this seeking transform our lives.  And the more we read and think, the more we realize that the Sermon on the Mount needs to apply to us today as much as to the crowd that surrounded Jesus on the mountain side 2000 years ago.  And there must be others out there who feel the same.  Our hope is to connect with other young people who are seeking and struggling to build firmly on this rock.  If we truly want to follow Jesus, we need to come together to discuss it and help each other put into practice what the Sermon on the Mount tells us.  If we do this, not just with our heads but with our hearts, it will transform us and the world.  We have all heard these teachings. Now is the time to build on the rock.


By Allegra Sosa
January 27, 2012
The Plough
http://www.plough.com

 

 


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