The Ten Commandments aren’t difficult. They’re straightforward and obvious. Except for the initial three referring to God, they don’t differ from the rules most people try to live by whether they’re religious or not. Maybe that’s why Catholics and other Christians argue and complain about rules so much: discussing them isn’t too threatening. Jesus’ expectations, on the other hand, his descriptions of how things must be for those who want to be part of God’s future are unsettling.
The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel [Mt 5,6 &7] summarizes what Jesus was looking for. It demands thought and some background knowledge but it gives us a rich sense of what it means to cooperate in God’s future.
Imagine a world where Christians openly forgave their enemies; where they didn’t belittle those who opposed them or hold grudges when they were wronged. Imagine a world where we didn’t pursue or cling to things that we didn’t actually need so that others could have the basic necessities of a dignified life. Imagine a world where our first goal in voting wasn’t our own welfare and the welfare of those close to us but for the common good. Imagine the world where the more than two billion Christians viewed their own welfare as inseparable from the welfare of the all people. Imagine that world. That’s what Jesus lived for. That’s what Jesus said is not only possible for us but is our world’s ultimate destiny.
This isn’t a matter of political or social theory. This is the gospel. Those who believe that Jesus is God’s Word, understand that this is the future the Creator is constructing.
For a Christian The Sermon on the Mount is the touchstone of human relationships and human hope. It isn’t an instruction manual for every problem but it is the vision that orients every solution. It contains much more than, “Blessed are the meek.” It’s a must read source of prayer for a serious Christian.