I struggled with what to say in this post. I didn’t want to say nothing because there hasn’t been a blog in two weeks, in part because I didn’t know what to say then either. Anyone who knows me can attest to how off-brand this struggle is for me. When I sat in church Sunday, I was truly stumped. How was I to write a blog when it was literally the Sermon on the Mount? It’s heartbreakingly perfect on its own.
It’s returned my mind to something God’s been impressing upon me quite a lot for quite a while now, and I almost wrote about it a little last week. It is just how wonderful Jesus is. I get how Sunday- school that sounds, but if you’ll allow me to expand upon it, maybe you’ll see.
I’ve mentioned once or twice recently that I’ve been going through a tough time, and while I don’t feel comfortable divulging all the details here, I do want to say that it has helped me rely on Jesus more and look to Him for everything. He is who I confide in, who I trust, who somehow calms me. My reaction to mental or spiritual turmoil is often to crumble and retreat, but this time, I am embracing God’s strength in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and it has been refreshing in a way. 1 Peter 5:7 (NRSV) tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” This season of my life has confirmed that for me.
It’s not that I’ve never heard all this or that I haven’t depended on these truths before. This has only proven how faithful God is (1 Corinthians 1:9), and it has made me fall more in love with my Savior because without Him, I’d be lost in so many ways, and I would be hopeless.
All of this has brought me to a place where I want to focus on Jesus within scripture—what He said, what He did, what it reveals about His character—which would lead me to the Gospels. It has struck me as ironic that as Alan has felt this call to be and to preach being gospel-centered, we have largely studied the words and life of Paul. Don’t get me wrong, Paul’s great, and he constantly points to the gospel and how to be gospel-centered. But reading Paul talk about the gospel is secondary to reading the gospel itself, which is found in the Gospels.
The first step to being gospel-centered is knowing the gospel and the key players in it, and this is achieved by reading the Gospels. In doing this, we know the life and sacrifice of Jesus firsthand. We don’t rely on what we hear from others, which can be distorted or lacking insight. We can know Jesus through scripture just as we come to know Him in our own lives. We go deeper, and it becomes harder to lose sight of Him. To know Him is to want to know Him more, and we get that in a large part from reading the Gospels.
It’s in the Gospels that we encounter such gems as the Sermon on the Mount. If you’ve never read Matthew 5-7 in its entirety, I strongly encourage you to do it. It’s Jesus’s first sermon, and what He chooses to preach on says so much about Him. There are so many things in these three chapters that are foundational to a relationship with God and being gospel-centered, like being the salt and the light of the world, loving our enemies, not being able to change a hair on our heads, seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, not judging, not being hypocritical. The Sermon on the Mount is overflowing with profound essentials, and because of this, it’s an excellent place to help us fall more in love with Jesus and focus on Him.
The Sermon on the Mount speaks for itself, but I’ve had all these things floating around in my heart, and God made a way for me to bring them together and express them here. I hope I’ve made sense in the course of trying to do so. The love and grace of Jesus are profound, yet they are also simple. When things come along that confuse us or turn us around, we need to revisit the basics, such as the Sermon on the Mount.
By Carrie Prevette