What is the meaning of life? We humans seem to be hard-wired to ask questions like this. What is the best possible kind of life? What is right and wrong? What is the best moral system? For thousands of years, thinking men and women have had these kinds of nagging thoughts, and for good reason: they draw us to something beyond ourselves, and they profoundly affect the way we live our lives.
In the fifth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus Christ, the one “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), begins to give us the most important core of his teaching. It is as if he summed up all of the best nuggets from the goldmine of the wisdom of the ages in these few chapters. Here we get some answers to those haunting questions.
If we pay attention to His words, they will radically change our lives and bring us into the heart of the God Who made us and wants a relationship with us.
In his impactful book on the Sermon on the Mount, Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard reminds us that Jesus’ words are not merely law, but they are spirit and life. They are the best information available on the most important topics in life. And, he says, “The good news is that Jesus is now taking students into the master class of life.”
So what do we learn from the fountain of all wisdom in this chapter? The content is worthy of several books, not just one blog. But let’s summarize what we find here.
- The path to happiness is not what my human nature thinks it is. We are blessed when we know our spiritual poverty and our need for God and for a Savior.
- We must understand who we are as Christ followers. We are salt (preserving and flavoring our world), and we are light (helping people who are in the dark find their way home to God).
- The Word of God (law) is far more important than we understand it to be. Every word of it will be fulfilled.
- Before God, we are required to live better than the most respected religious leaders among us. Religious actions are not enough to get to God. Our righteousness must come from beyond ourselves.
- Everything our culture has taught us is not always the truth. We need to be open to change our minds about the important matters of life.
- Jesus changed the unit of measurement from outer actions to inner motives: from murder to hate, from adultery to lust. It is what is inside of a man that defines him.
- Relationships are supreme, not only with brothers but with enemies. Don’t come to worship if your relationship with your brother is not right; love your enemies, bless them and do good to them.
This is not an easy path to walk. A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who has made the hard decision to order his or her life around the life and teachings of the greatest teacher who ever lived. This means swimming upstream in the swift current of our culture, and it requires the power of the gospel to change our lives, make us spiritually alive and change us daily. It is not easy, but it is the greatest adventure on which we will ever embark. This is the best possible life we can live on this earth, as prescribed by the one who created and redeemed this earth. Let’s make a decision, by God’s grace, to walk this hard path. I can see great blessing and great influence streaming out from the Church as we follow Christ and serve our neighbors. I have decided that this is the path for me. Who’s with me?