The central themes of Jesus’ fourteen teachings in the “sermon on the mount” address the issues of money, sexuality, and power. This ground breaking, life changing sermon (the greatest one ever spoken) challenged disciples of Christ in three areas. Christians should desire to experience the deliverance of the kingdom of God and to put on display tangibly what it looks like to walk in the way of Jesus.
It is important for your tone, Christian, to define what we are pursuing rather than simply what we are avoiding, so here are three categories of that pursuit:
GENEROSITY – Stewarding our resources
God is a generous God who gives generously to all without finding fault. God demonstrates generosity in not sparing the Son but freely giving him to us (Romans 8). Paul says of Christ, “He who was rich became poor that by his poverty we might become rich.”
Generosity is at the heart of who God is and it is at the heart of the kind of people he invites us to become.
Generosity is about more than money. It is about time and abilities as well.
We are stewards, meant to see life as a gift that is stewarded for the glory of God. In the Bible, this fundamentally means we take on a vision of abundance over scarcity. For example, church staff, who live off the tithes of the people of our church family, should give back to the church.
FAITHFULNESS – Stewarding our sexuality
We believe that God created marriage to be a lifelong covenant between one natural born man and one natural born woman. How we relate sexually is a critical arena for Christian proclamation and instruction, but one that is often neglected due to fear of giving offense or simply embarrassment and shame. Hopefully, the following offers some clarity in this important issue:
God’s design in creation is that marriage is constituted by the committed, faithful relationship between one natural born man and one natural born woman in which they become one flesh in a new social unity that is distinct from their birth families, and that sexual intercourse as the expression of that ‘one flesh’ is to be enjoyed exclusively within the bond of marriage.
Marriage points back to and is a reclamation of how it was in Eden before the Fall of Man. This loving sexual union, in which ‘two become one’, reflects both Christ’s relationship with the Church and also the unity of Jew and Gentile in the new humanity.
Believers should recognize their need for deep humility and consciousness of failure in this area and challenge surrounding cultures by living according to the standards to which the Bible calls us. Our churches should always be a place where the dignity of all people is respected with love, kindness and empathy.
SERVANTHOOD – Stewarding authority
In our corruption by sin, power is often exercised to abuse and exploit others, sometimes exalting ourselves, claiming superiority of gender, race, or social status. Paul counters all these marks of power abuse with his requirement that those who are filled by God’s Spirit should submit to one another for Christ’s sake. Such mutual submission and reciprocal love is to be expressed in marriage, family, and socio-economic relations.
Jesus’ teachings on power is crucial here: “There arose a reasoning among the disciples, which would be the greatest. ((Luke 9: 46, 47).” Jesus rebuked this mentality, calling them to humble service. He said of himself: “The Son of man has not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). This is the pattern of Jesus for power: humble servanthood.
How are you doing in the pursuit of generosity, servanthood, and faithfulness? Is your greatest desire to love and serve all people?