Excerpts from Matthew chapter 5. (The Message)
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, “I'll pray for you,” and never doing it, or saying, "God be with you,” and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.
If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
You're familiar with the old written law, "Love your friend,” and its unwritten companion, "Hate your enemy.” I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
Consider the Christian Evangelical sub-culture.
Do we replace Hollywood's celebrities with Christian ones?
Do we love our enemies (i.e. Senators Hillary Clinton and Edward Kennedy, or the neighbor who goes to the other church who you don't talk to anymore).
Do we talk a good line in our small groups and Bible studies, knowing it's only a half truth?
How many lawsuits are Christians and churches caught up in?
Are we generous, or are we as concerned with retirement and a new car as the next guy?
And what constitutes being generous anyway? Is Starbucks and eating out (these are just examples of what you spend your money on) acceptable, given the needs of the world, the poor, and those ravaged by war?
We spend an inordinate amount of time in seminary trying to understand the deep and intricate things of God, while simultaniously we don't do what is direct and simple (intellectually speaking), because of course, it's not so simple to live it out. (Believe me, I know.)