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We often wonder what it would be like if Jesus were with us today. Would he approve of the sermons delivered by our pastors, or would He stand up and preach Himself? If Jesus were to listen in to your Sunday morning service, what Jesus calls today’s message might be unexpected.
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, teaches his followers about daily life. Matthew 5–7 covers every aspect of living in great detail. From the “Be-Attitudes” of 5:3-11 to his closing remarks and the crowd’s astonishment in chapter 7, Jesus addresses the crowd giving examples of how to live a godly life.
Reading this history lesson, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if Christ chose to arrive later in time? If Jesus calls today’s message:
- Would there be a difference?
- Would he still show himself to those the world considered lowly?
- Would there be added warnings about what is going on in today’s society?
I do believe that the message in itself, is timeless. The struggles people dealt with in 30AD (roughly the time that Jesus delivered this message) are the same as we face in 2019AD. The real difference is that there are far more people today and many more opinions. Yet, it does not matter how many choices are available; the message remains the same: Love God, Love each other.
Jesus calls today’s message: Inclusiveness
The biggest trend in the world today is being inclusive of all. No one is right; no one is wrong; everyone is equal. Even though those that point fingers and tell Christians they are not being inclusive are being exclusive themselves, but that is a completely different blog (maybe even a series of blogs). The point is that Jesus would be talking about inclusiveness – but not in the way the world defines it.
Inclusive of All People
John 3:16 teaches us that God so loved the world. It does not say he loved Christians only. It does not say he will love you if you are good enough. In fact, there is no qualifier other than you are in the world. So, if you are reading this, saved, still on the fence, or dead set against anything religious, God loves you.
Inclusive of All Sin
Sin is sin, and sin is sin. Jesus expresses that throughout the Sermon on the Mount. There is no difference between one who murders and one who hates. There is no difference between one who actually sins and the one who is only considering sinning. Hate is murder. Lust is adultery. Generosity with the expectation of rewards is greed. Anxiety is a lack of trust in God. Judge, and you will be judged. We are all guilty of sin; it is the greatest equalizer of them all.
Inclusive of All Behavior
Just as we have stated that hate is murder, love is begotten of love. We should love the way we desire to be loved. It is not the opposite. So many people treat others in reciprocation of how they are treated. Then they use Matthew 7:12 as their reasoning. But you read God’s Word wrong if you see it through those glasses. This verse says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Read carefully. You are the instigator of the positive action; not the one reacting. Show contempt, reap contempt; show love, reap love.
Jesus did not call us to love only the lovable. He called us to love all. His final words to His disciples, recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, was to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus did not say, “to those who deserve it,” or “to those who people feel comfortable with” – All. As my pastor says, “All means all.”
Jesus calls today’s message: Right and Wrong
Jesus wants us to be inclusive of all people in that we are to treat everyone equal, as they are in His sight. He loves them, so should we. That being said, there is a line between right and wrong when it comes to speaking to those who are not believers.
What is Right
The Greatest Commandment is the utmost ‘right’ way to share Christ; in love. Luke also records Jesus’ message on the Mount. His is a summary as compared to what we read in Matthew: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:37-38
There is little difference between labeling someone who is lost a sinner and condemning them because they are a lost sinner. Disassociation is not going to win souls to Christ. Pointing out sin is definitely not going to draw them to the Lord. The right way is to show love, in spite of sin. The love we share can eventually win them over.
What is Wrong
At the same time, while we are inviting everyone into the loving arms of the Lord, we need to understand there is a difference between accepting the sinner and accepting the sin. We are called to love the sinner, but that does not mean we are to accept the sin. This is the issue with many Christian denominations today. They are slowly giving into society’s definition of ‘inclusion.’
The world says to include everyone into everything. Their definition is to tear down, “You can’t have that because I don’t have that. You having that is offensive to me because you are not including me in it, so therefore no one shouldn’t have it.” Christ’s definition of inclusion builds people up. “You don’t have that, but it can be given to you. I took the offense, so now you can be included in it, just as everyone can take part in it.” Both ways place people on a level plain. However, one is divisive; The other is restorative.
Jesus calls today’s message to draw all people to Himself. As the children’s song says, “Red, Yellow, Black, and White. They are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” And we are all His children. One of the greatest things is that God is colorblind. He includes everyone in His plan of salvation. For us to block out one group or another is not what His Word states.
It does not mean we are to accept what people do. But we are to love who they are. Jesus’ message back then, is the same message today. The names and labels have changed, but the faces are the same. The faces we walk past in the hallways. The faces that Christ died for. We are still called to go to them. The message of inclusiveness includes the message of the Gospel. For he died for all. And all means all.
Article written by Jeff S. Bray