The Sermon on the Mount, Twitter Edition

James Tissot, Jésus enseigne le peuple près de la mer

I’ve just been reflecting on the year-long sermon series I did last year at our church on Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, that wonderful collection of some of Jesus’ core kingdom teachings. It was a series in three parts: the first part walking through “The Beatitudes,” the blessings that open the Sermon; the second part reflecting on the central section of the Sermon as “Lessons in the Way of Love”; and the third part reflecting on certain “spiritual practices” that Jesus refers to in the second half of the Sermon, which I called “Habits of Holy Love.” (Most, if not all, of these sermons are available for listening at the church website here.)

Along the way I created some pithy sayings to summarize some of my thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount. All of them are “tweetable,” able to post in a single Twitter update; some of those I even tweeted along the way. Here they are all collected together.

The Beatitudes

Our encounters with God begin with blessing. “Blessed are…” “Fear not…” “Peace be with you.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

Jesus’ most demanding moral teaching is grounded in grace, founded on mercy. “Blessed are…” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

God’s blessing—favour and flourishing—is for those who need it, and know they need it. “…the poor in spirit.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

All who know true “poverty in spirit”—God’s vision of a flourishing creation was conceived with you in mind. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“Happy” are those who mourn? No, but “blessed”—favoured by God now, sure to flourish one day. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

All who grieve with humanity and all creation over sin and death—you will be comforted. “…those who mourn.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

Lament in the way of the Psalms, in the way of Jesus, is a powerful salve for suffering. “…those who mourn.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

The downtrodden, the stamped-upon, the pressed-into-the-earth—one day that earth will be yours. “…the meek.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“The meek” is not only a “who” it is a “how”—we inherit the earth thru gentle humility not violent aggression. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“They will inherit the earth”=“theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (“Your kingdom come on earth as in heaven.”) #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for *justice*, for they will be filled.” #kingdomrighteousness #sermononthemount #beatitudes

God’s kingdom “righteousness” = justice = equity = flourishing for all “…hunger and thirst for justice.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

All you persistent, relentless, come-hell-or-high-water justice-seekers—don’t give up! Justice is coming! #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“Justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West “…those who hunger and thirst for justice.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – MLK et al “…they will be filled.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

Be merciful—show compassion and kindness, give and forgive—and others (including God) will return the favour. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

(Of course, God is the one who does this first—“Be merciful just as God is merciful.” Welcome to the mysteries of mercy multiplied.)

“Be merciful just as God is merciful.” In other words “love enemies, give, don’t judge, forgive” (Lk 6:35-38). #sermononthemount #beatitudes

Impurity is not contagious; mercy is. It spreads, and expands, and returns to us. Mercy is the new holiness. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” – Jesus “…blessed are the merciful.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“Blest the pure in heart”—clean from the inside out, not whitewashed tombs who speak holiness but harm others. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

Those who pursue not an outward purity that excludes, but a purity from within that loves—these will see God. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

Want to see God? Know you are beloved by God, and live in God’s love with others. “…pure in heart.” 1Jn3-4 #sermononthemount #beatitudes

God’s favour is upon the peacemakers—not the vengeance-seekers, sword-wielders, and warmongers. #upsidedownkingdom #sermononthemount #beatitudes #peaceweek

You who pray and work for a world in which all can flourish together with God, others, and all creation—you are God’s blessed child. “…the peacemakers.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes #peaceweek

You say you are “born again,” “born of God,” yet justify violence and violate justice? Here’s who God calls “my child”: peacemakers. #sermononthemount #beatitudes #peaceweek

“Persecuted for righteousness” does not mean “opposed for being a jerk.” Jesus isn’t a jerk. Be like Jesus. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

“Persecuted for righteousness” doesn’t mean “persecuted for being right, for believing the right things.” It means “persecuted for doing right by others, for making wrongs right.” Doing justice, in other words. #sermononthemount #beatitudes

If you follow Jesus’ kingdom way of seeking justice and rejecting violence and loving enemies and eating with sinners and forgiving freely and healing indiscriminately—you will make enemies. More people to love. “…persecuted for righteousness.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

If you’re working toward greater justice and peace in the world and people oppose you, even seek to harm you—don’t be surprised. That’s what happens to prophets. “…persecuted for righteousness.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

God’s reign of justice and peace and flourishing life come from heaven to earth—this is for all who are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, seeking justice, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for justice. “…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” #sermononthemount #beatitudes

The Way of Love

Jesus gives us a new Law, a Law which is really a Way, a way of life, the way of love. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

In the way of love, the ends do not justify the means. The means (love) are the ends (love) in the process of becoming. – Zahnd et al #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love is concerned not just with external actions, but with the internal roots of those actions. The way of love nurtures our God-given desires, rightly ordered around faithful devotion to God and compassionate care for others. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love attends to our own hostility toward others. The way of love also pays attention to others’ grievances against us. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love seeks to rectify wrongs and reconcile with others. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love doesn’t treat others as objects to possess, or things that exist to satisfy our desires. The way of love treats all others as persons created in God’s image and loved by God. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love takes our own sin seriously, all the ways we harm others through our attitudes, words, and actions. The way of love doesn’t force others to live a certain way in order to keep us from sinning. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love resists evil and injustice, but not through retaliation or retribution. The way of love unmasks evil by doing good; it overpowers evil through love. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love is the way of forgiveness, of kindness, of blessing—even toward those who oppose us or seek to harm us. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love is never the way of violence. The way of violence is never the way of love. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love nurtures simple sincerity with God and others. It encourages mutual vulnerability with others before God. There is no place for pride or need for deceit in the way of love, including spiritual pride and religious manipulation. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love is the way of justice for all, including (and even especially) economic justice. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

The way of love trusts in God for daily needs, and gives out of that daily bread to others who have need. The way of love is the way of generous simplicity. #sermononthemount #lawoflove

Habits of Holy Love

Prayer centers us on God, our personal, loving Creator, the Mothering Father of us all. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

When we pray we are not merely praying to someone who is like us, only bigger and better; we are praying to God, the one in whom and through whom and for whom we exist. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

God’s will for all things is flourishing life, a life filled with love and peace—and this is exactly what God’s kingdom is all about. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

God’s goal is not to provide us an escape from earth down here to heaven up there. Rather God’s goal is to bring heaven down to earth—and God invites us to participate in the process. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

Provision, forgiveness, and protection—these are kingdom matters, wrapped up in God. And these are not just for each of us individually, but for us collectively, as Jesus’ followers and as a human race. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

“Give us this day our daily bread”: Trust in God for just what you need, no more, just when you need it, not before. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth”: Don’t accumulate things; do good deeds. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

“Be on your guard against all kinds of greed”: True life is not about having lots of stuff. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

“Seek first the kingdom of God”: Show allegiance to God and God’s way of justice, and God will take care of you. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

“Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return”: Be like God, and give generously to everyone—even beggars, thieves, and enemies! #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

Forgiveness is a necessary part of the very fabric of the universe; it should be as ordinary as breathing, as everyday as eating and drinking. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

We are bound together by the sin that has occurred between us, creating a chain of debt; only forgiveness can break this chain. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

The simple yet necessary liturgy of forgiveness: “I was wrong. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”—and in response—“I forgive you.” #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

Underlying Jesus’ call to faith are these truths: “You are valuable to God. God knows what you need. God will take care of you.” #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

“Humble faith” in the way of Jesus involves both personal trust in God and personal commitment to God’s way. There is a “rest” in faith—resting in God’s love and care—but there is also a “pursuit”—pursuing God’s kingdom vision. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove

Persistent prayer. Generous simplicity. Merciful forgiveness. Humble faith. These are not merely the way to become more like Jesus, the way God’s kingdom comes about on earth—they are in fact what Christlikeness and God’s kingdom are all about. #sermononthemount #habitsoflove