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January 07, 2010

Sermon On the Mount

I'm going to do this. I'm going to memorize the sermon on the mount; the book of Matthew, Chapters 5-7. It may take the entire year; I don't care. I think of all the random tidbits and useless lyrics that will continue to enter my mind; and the volume of Matthew 5 - 7 is nothing.

If granted the days, I will do this. I make a good legalist, so why not put that to good use? I've read through the entire Bible at least three times since I started reading it in 1998. That's no big deal. Two of those times, I've attempted to slow down and not "just get through it." One of those times I've went along highlighting scholarly study notes dealing with context and history, translation and meaning.

I'm excited about this. I want to own the sermon on the mount. I want it to permeate my thoughts and have it leap from the edge of my actions. I want to see God.

Why? Because it will be really cool to step up in front of the congregation or a big crowd at the boardwalk and belt it out and impress everyone. They'll all be saying, "look how awesome that guy is."

No. I'm doing this because the sermon on the mount is deep and practical. Because it's often held as containing the central tenets of the faith. Because it contains the kinds of statements that turn things of this world upside down and backwards and at the same time reveal great truth.

Because catching a real living example, even just a glimpse, of these teachings lived out always makes a huge impact on me. I mean, I hear THIS SONG inspired by the sermon on the mount and for a few hours I'm left operating only about half in this world. I watched tHIS Metallica movie/video, and sat there stunned. Really Metallica, "blessed are the merciful?" The sermon on the mount kicks more ass than even those guitar riffs. Well, not really. But if wise sayings and hard truths that inspire you and challenge your very being and usher peace and love and holiness from heaven to earth could kick ass, then the sermon on the mount is definitely ass kicking time.

The clear directive to do this came from a dash of prayer, a 2-sentence blurb in Relevant magazine, and this essay I came across a while ago (portion copied below).

So if not the whole bible, perhaps I could know the New Testament and come to understand the foundations of the Christian faith. And if the New Testament is too much to fathom, then maybe I could know the gospel stories of Jesus. And if not the gospels, then how about Matthew? And if not Matthew, then surely the sermon on the mount could be known. And if not the sermon, then at least the beatitudes. And if not the beatitudes, then I would like to know the first beatitude.

I would like to know what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I would like to know poverty of Spirit, for poverty is all I am left with. I would like the courage to be made poor before the shattering depth of the Creator and alongside the unthinkable breadth of humanity. Spiritual poverty is all I ask for now, and it is more than I can handle.

After this post, it won't be brought up on my end. I need to do this not as any church or group thing. Surely, hopefully, this commitment will pervade my words and deeds in the clinic and at home and at the blog, but you won't hear it brought up directly in this context again.

So yes, as the world continues moving forward in exponentially greater leaps and bounds, I will be devoting some significant portion of time trying to memorize and understand something a Gallilean carpenter said a couple thousand years ago. I can't think of much better.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

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1 comment:

Matt said...

great goal! listen to a recording of it in whatever translation you're using when you're doing other things.

"sulati" is my word verification, which sounds like either a greeting or a farewell in some language from "the east"