Let Your Light Shine

by Nicholas Drendel
by Nicholas Drendel

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain. The disciples followed and gathered around Him when He sat down. So began the Sermon on the Mount.

Though the text does not clearly say, I believe it was just Jesus and the disciples on the mountain. Jesus was sitting, and the disciples were around Him. there was no room for the crowds to gather, and they could not hear Him as He sat with the disciples around Him.

The Sermon on the Mount, therefore, was not for the crowds, but for the followers of Jesus.

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A City Set on a Hill in a Foreign World

Our end goal is not ultimately to rehabilitate an earthly city or country, but to enter into a heavenly City of which the designer and builder is God.

One Sunday I recall the pastor deviating from the planned sermon to observe that Christians today sometimes act as if God is not in control. We do this by complaining about politics, our country, the world, etc. Sometimes when the Spirit leads, we need to stop from our planned way and consider what God is saying. If we don’t, we might miss God.

There is a segment of the church that believes and acts like the USA is God’s country, a Christian nation. I think this is where many Christians allow politics into their theology at a grave danger to pure religion, which James reminds us “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. (James 1:27)

Yes, the founding fathers were “Christians”; and the country became a haven, a promised land, early on for people escaping religious persecution in England and other places. I love the fact that our country was founded on Biblical ideals, among other things, with honor for God. The freedom of religion and freedom of expression in the USA make this country great, the envy of much of the world, though not understood by much of the world as well.

Many hundreds of years before Jesus the Israelites were God’s chosen people. They were chosen out of all the people groups in the ancient Middle East on the basis of Abraham’s faith, and a promise was made to him that the whole world would be blessed by his progeny.

The promise of God to the people (Abraham and his descendants) to whom He chose to entrust that promise prepared the way for Jesus, the Messiah, except Jesus came with a plan and a message they did not expect. He came to his own, and his own knew him not. The Israelites were dug in, resting on the assumption that they alone were God’s chosen people. Many of them missed the boat. They rejected the Son of God because they had their own expectations and were not in tune with what God was doing.

We know the rest of the story, at least where the narrative continues today. God’s plan was to introduce the Christ for all people through the platform of the message entrusted to the Jewish people, who preserved that message and protected it. But many of them missed it. God does not always work as we expect Him to work.

We might say the Jews became nationalistic in their religion, and they missed the fact that God intended to bless the whole world. Yes, Jesus came to his own, but he also came to all who would believe on him. The new wine came, and the old wine skin could not contain it.

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