God designed us to get all of our life, worth and value from him. But when humanity signed our declaration of independence in the garden, we started to fill our lives with the things of this world. In this sermon, Greg calls us to become dependent on God in ways that might cause us to mourn. Additionally, Greg addresses the marriage amendment vote in Minnesota.
Before we get to the message from the Sermon on the Mount, we want to talk about the marriage amendment and Woodland Hills’ stance on homosexuality. In Minnesota, this is a very large political topic and many people have been asking Greg what he thinks of the issue. The truth is, Greg doesn’t think this issue or any other political issue deserves a full sermon, so we are addressing the topic before the real sermon on living God’s Kingdom.
We at Woodland Hills Church believe that the ideal for sexuality is within the covenant of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any sexuality outside of this covenant, whether pre-marital sex, divorce, polygamy or lust of someone outside the covenant, is missing the mark of God’s ideal, which the Bible calls sin. However, at the same time that we say that, we also say, emphatically, that we are all sinners, and we are passionately opposed to any sort of pharisaical sin scale. We’re passionately opposed to the traditional tendency of the church to see itself as a “holy club” that considers the sins of the insiders to be minor while the sins of the outsiders to be major. Ironically, the sins of the churches in America that are dismissed as minor are the sins that are the most emphatically denounced in scripture.
In fact, the church not only minimizes these sins, but sometimes even Christianizes these sins. Many feel righteous because they have more wealth and are therefore more blessed by God. And when people feel more righteous, they feel it is their duty to point out other people’s sins to help them become more righteous. But the role of the accuser has always been Satan, and the truth of the matter is that the church has to a large degree played the role of Satan in society. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation and this means that we are not supposed to count people’s sins against them. We should be the last people on the planet who should ever point out another’s sin. Not only that, but Jesus commanded us to consider any sin of another as a mere speck in their eye compared to the 2×4 in our own eye. If Jesus were to act like the church has acted, then the prostitutes and tax collectors would never have followed him.
If the Caesar of this land wants your opinion on what should happen in this world, you can give it. But as an ambassador to this same Caesar and his land, this isn’t our issue. Our mindset should be that of Paul in 1 Corinthians 5, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?…God will judge those outside.” Our job is to leave all judgment to God, and as ambassadors, we should bring the ministry of reconciliation through humble love and servitude towards others. Now—back to the Blessed Revolution series.
These beatitudes are not rules we’re supposed to obey but rather describe what it looks like for a person to truly follow Christ. A person who is poor in spirit is someone who is depleted, broken, or empty. Jesus is saying this person is blessed because they can then be filled by God. In America, we try to fill our lives with wealth, power, superiority, our own strength, and competition with others. When we fill ourselves with these things, we have no space to be filled by God.
Rejection of these empty things that push out God will cause us pain because it’s not comfortable to live without power, wealth, and our own strength. This is why Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Rejection of the things of this world has historically brought pain and suffering to Christians, and this is still true today. Any spiritual discipline requires us to shed the things of this world, and it will affect our lives in a way that makes us mourn.
But Jesus says that we will be comforted. Once we get past the mourning, we receive the blessing of comfort. The comfort of dependence on God. The comfort of being filled by the most powerful being in the universe! This is what it looks like to be in a covenant relationship with God. And this is why Jesus says we are blessed if we give up the things of this world and embrace God instead of idols.
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