There Are No Ordinary DisciplesPosted: June 23, 2011
The Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7, is probably the most profound and challenging teaching the world has ever known. You can read it out loud in about 4 or 5 minutes, but the goal of every Christian should be to live it out loud for a lifetime. John R.W. Stott summed it up well:
The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed.
As I reflect on it, I think the reason that there is such a challenge to consistently live out the principles Jesus lays down is that the standard presented in the Sermon on the Mount is just so different. Radically, drastically, life-changeingly different. The Lord is not pulling any punches. He makes it clear that if you are going to be a disciple, your behavior will be unalterably distinctive from others that are not disciples, or who merely pretend to be.
The difference does not come from a deliberate attempt to stand at odds with those around us – indeed Jesus makes clear that we are to be “salt” and “light” to the world. This certainly implies difference, but the reason for that difference is not inherent in our neighbors. It stems from a desire to align ourselves with the holiness of God. Difference comes not from our rejection of the world, but the world’s rejection of the God we choose to follow.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls for a difference in his disciples in every way that matters. They have a different standard of happiness than the materialism of those around them, a different dedication to righteousness than that offered by the rationalizations of the pseudo-religious, a different motivation and audience for personal and public piety, a different source of trust than physical wealth, a different method of evaluation of themselves and others…
Disciples – people who follow Jesus – can’t help but be unusual, atypical, and out of the ordinary. Not in flashy, obnoxious, and arrogant ways. Not because of slogans and signposts, bumper stickers and branded tees. They are different because the quality of their lives, as seen in their actions and reactions and interactions, is so obviously at odds with everything the world has to offer. There are no ordinary disciples because discipleship, the way Jesus pictured and presented it, is anything but ordinary.
Disciples are different.