Reflection: The Sermon on the Mount begins with the eight Beatitudes (beatus is Latin for blessing). And the first one makes a point that is worth pausing over: the richest ethical discourse in world history (the Sermon on the Mount) begins with the blessing of acknowledging our moral bankruptcy, our ‘poverty of spirit’. We enter God’s kingdom not by performing the Sermon on the Mount but by admitting that we haven’t, and that we can’t, and that we have no right to the kingdom.
This confronts the secular myth that humanity is ‘good through and through’ and ‘only getting better’. I don’t know how I could ever believe that. I am confronted with counter-evidence by about 9am every day! Christians, of course, strive to obey the Sermon on the Mount—with its call to love, purity, generosity, and so on—but we know there is a greater truth than our obedience. It is God’s mercy toward us in Jesus. Christ lived the perfect life (described in the Sermon on the Mount). Then he gave that perfect life for us on the cross, so that we might experience the “forgiveness of sins” he promised at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:28). As a result, we get to possess “the kingdom of heaven”. The truly “blessed” life begins with complete dependency on the riches of God’s grace.
Question: Does God’s mercy toward you loom larger in your mind than your (failed) efforts to obey Him?