We are half way through our midweek Lent course, which is drawing on material from Adam Hamilton's book The Way: walking in the footsteps of Jesus. This last week, the focus was on the teaching of Jesus, specifically his famous Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. The passage is familiar to us but looking at the text again this week, I was struck by its importance for our life together:
The sermon paints a very attractive picture of what life lived in the kingdom (or under the rule) of God looks like. This really is the full life Jesus offers us all – where everyone speaks with respect; where anger, fear, greed, lust, judgmentalism and contempt are no more; and where there is no more material need. It may feel like a far cry from our current reality, but it is an ideal to be pursued with all our strength. The fact that Jesus' standards seem so out of reach remind us that we need help. We need a Saviour.
Jesus compares the kingdom to a mustard seed that grows into a huge tree. The life of the kingdom begins very humbly within each of us, but grows until we and our communities are completely transformed. This only happens though if these words are not just studied, but lived. If we obey his teaching, when the storms of life come, we will stand firm like a house built on a solid foundation. The key question though is how do we help each other to live this life? How do we ensure that when we meet for worship on Sundays we look more like Jesus than we did a week earlier? We grappled with this question during the week and I am convinced the answer lies within our own tradition – the weekly question asked in a small group setting or one-on-one: How goes it with your soul? If we want to be citizens of the kingdom, experiencing the life Jesus came to offer, it starts with letting someone or some people close enough to support and encourage us, and help us to honestly look into our own hearts.
May Your kingdom come, Lord Jesus!