Before we went out onto the streets last night, we read together the sermon on the mount (Mat 5,6 and 7). These simple counter culture words from the greatest sermon even preached stirred every one of us. As we went around the room talking about the passage I was struck again by the power of the words.
We discussed what it is to truly live a life of blessing as enjoyed by the meek, the merciful, the poor, the peacemakers, the pure in heart, the persecuted and those who hunger for righteousness. We discussed non-violence and what it means to not resist the evil one, to turn the other cheek, or to give to anyone who asks in the context of a sometimes very violent Hillbrow. We discovered that this idea was rooted in Christ's radical idea of enemy love which calls us to even pray for those who persecute us. We grappled with the teachings on forgiveness, contentment, not worrying and were challenged by the simplicity to trust God for daily provision of food and clothes like the birds of the air and lilies in the field.
The value of not judging others and makings sure we see our own brokenness before dealing with the comparatively small sins in the lives of others is challenging. We talked about getting back to the heart of gospel as interpreted by Jesus when he constantly said "you have heard it said, but I tell you...". We need to allow the words to impact more than our actions but also our hearts.
As we reflected on how these words in this sermon that have been described as the greatest influence on many of our heroes, we too were impacted. We discussed how many took these words seriously and as a result changed the world... from the early Christians who were willing to face extreme scorn and rejection, throughout early church history to Francis of Assisi who declared these verses as his rule for the Franciscan order. Even more modern day reformers like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandi have been shaken to the core by these words.
We imagined what would happen to our city if just a few of us would radically commit to live out these the most important words in the Bible.