The Sermon on the Mount as Formative of a Counter-Cultural Kingdom (Preston Sprinkle)

Jesus sought to establish a counter-cultural … kingdom whose citizens would embody a not-of-this-world reign over the earth. And on one Galilean afternoon, King Jesus sat down to tell His followers what this unconventional kingdom would look like [Matthew 5-7, the so-called Sermon on the Mount]. …

[T]he Sermon is intended to reconfigure God’s new community, to mold His people into a visibly different kingdom in the face of all other imposter kingdoms… —a public display of a different way (Matt. 5:13–14 [v.16]). The Sermon’s instructions are designed to be very different, communal, visible; they attract attention, cause bewilderment, and showcase the missional heart of the King. …

The Sermon … is the ‘definitive charter for the life of the new covenant community,’ and through it Jesus seeks to sculpt counter-cultural masterpieces—citizens of the great King—to embody a different society and disclose a different God. We should expect these instructions to jar our thinking, challenge our desires, and contradict normality—the way we usually do things around here. If you’re ‘of the world,’ the Sermon will seem outlandish and impractical. …

When we are wronged, we forgive; when we have money, we give; when we don’t have money, we give; when we give, we don’t flaunt it; when we fast, we smile; when we need food and clothing and the bank account is dry, we don’t worry like the rest of the world. Instead, we pray.

… Jesus calls His followers to a different way, a subversive kingdom. …

The Sermon on the Mount constitutes Jesus’s radical kingdom ethic. Heads will turn as we turn our cheeks. Our inexplicable behavior will call attention to our inexplicable God. Light will beam across our dark world as we love the spouses who don’t love us back, keep our word when it hurts, judge ourselves rather than others, and—most shockingly—love our enemies who are harming us. When we are cursed, we bless. When we are hated, we love. When we are robbed, we give. And when we are struck, we don’t strike back with violence. A person who chooses to love his or her enemies can have no enemies. That person is left only with neighbors.

~ Preston Sprinkle, Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence

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