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If Jesus came back today to give an 18-minute TED talk, what do you think he would say?
Do you think I might mention the nation’s current financial struggles and concerns about things like inflation? Would he deal with hot topics such as the current political state of our country and who do we, as his disciples, vote for? Is it possible for Jesus to address our feelings towards these issues and how does it affect our relationship with him? Well, he already has it in his Sermon on the Mount.
In my new book, “18 Minutes with Jesus: Direct Talk from the Savior About the Things That Matter Most,” I address these topics and more, and delve into what is known as one of Jesus’ most powerful sermons. Although short, the powerful 18-minute Sermon gets right to the heart of the issues that matter most to us: money, worry, sex, how to deal with enemies, and our eternal destiny.
In economic times like these, it’s hard to focus and do the right things and easy to fall into the many worldly traps that lie before us. As Jesus explained, it is foolish to pursue temporal things such as earthly wealth which is temporary instead of heavenly wealth which is eternal. Jesus said that wealth can be easily lost (think of a falling stock market) or destroyed by moths and rust (or today by inflation and high interest rates).
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In Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus explains that we must make a decision when it comes to wealth and concern. He illustrated this decision using stark contrasts: we must decide between treasures in heaven and treasures on earth. We must choose eyes that see or eyes that do not see. And decide if God is our master or if money is.
Likewise, many of the other principles preached in this sermon, such as the eight beatitudes, are at play in today’s decaying society. We live in a society that rejects the eight attitudes that Jesus Christ calls us, his disciples, to embody.
If we want to embody the Beatitudes through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must begin by accepting radically countercultural perspectives and practices.
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But, we cannot stop trying to bring about change in our individual lives. Jesus reminded us of our responsibility to the world in which we live. Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t try to improve their world. In this famous sermon, Jesus called his followers to be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). In Jesus’ time, salt was a preservative that could not prevent meat from spoiling, but it could delay spoilage and give meat a longer shelf life.
In the same way, followers of Christ can stop the decline of culture and the collapse of the world by rolling back the moral and spiritual rot of the world. One way Christians stop cultural decay is in the leaders they choose.
My friend Cal Thomas famously said, “The Kingdom of God will not come on Air Force One.” fair enough However, the leaders we elect determine the policies we follow and those policies determine the moral and spiritual direction of our country.
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Jesus concludes his sermon by addressing our eternal destiny. To spend eternity with God, you must first choose to walk the narrow path. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14, there are not many paths to heaven, but only one path. And lest anyone misunderstand, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).
With each and every decision we make, we choose to walk the broad path and enter the wide gate with the masses that leads to destruction or to walk the narrow path and choose to enter the narrow gate that leads to the one path that leads to a life – and an eternity – experiencing the blessings of God.
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