We are shaped by the people around us. Our parents, our siblings, our friends, our classmates, our teachers all have a very distinct and powerful impact on who we are, the way we think, even the way we talk. Parents – you know that it’s true. You’re starting to sound like your mother or father.
We are shaped by the culture around us. We live in a great country and it has a very distinct culture. That culture is blasted at us in TV shows and on Netflix. That culture is quietly pushed at us through the news and radio. That culture is even shaped by the laws and mentalities of our nation. We are profoundly – more than we even know – shaped by the fact that we live here instead of in some other country and in some other part of the world.
As Christians this often means that the way we think and even the things that we believe are often shaped by the Bible and culture, the Bible and family, the Bible and … I think you get the idea.
But what happens when the shaping isn’t so good? What happens when the world is shaping our thinking, our acting, our feeling in ways that violate God’s way of thinking, acting and feeling? What happens when we’re taught things at home or in school that directly contradict or quietly circumvent the truth that God has given?
Sadly, Christians are often molded by culture instead of molding culture by their Christianity. But this isn’t anything new. In Jesus’ day, the church of Jesus’ day was teaching some things about God’s Word and specifically about God’s commands that weren’t quite what God had in mind. The thinking and even the teaching of the church had been shaped in a way that violated God’s clear words.
Jesus had some work to do. He had to clear up some things. He had to set some things straight so that his disciples would have a clear understanding of the way God wanted them to be and to live in this world. He was chiseling them and shaping them by teaching them to the truth.
I’ll be honest, this next section of the Sermon on the Mount is going to get a little uncomfortable. Jesus is going to take his chisel to our teachings, to our attitudes, at our hearts, even at our lives. And it’s going to hurt. But we need it. Our eternity depends on it. Jesus says so. More and more we need to conform our thinking, our feeling, our attitudes, our very lives to the Word and will of God. It will be painful. But it will be good for us.
This Sunday we will be studying Matthew 5:27-30. This section and the others around will profoundly and powerfully shape our thinking and our behaving in this world.
Lord, shape us by your Word. Lord, help us by your Spirit. Lord, save us by your Son. Amen.