The sermon on the mount has been taught in many ways, but one useful approach is less common.  You can see it as a 12-step program.

 

  1. When he saw the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain.  When life presses in, and it becomes overwhelming, change your physical surroundings.  Get out.  Go to a quiet place that’s different from the daily routines.  It may be a simple as  a day of Sabbath Rest (rather than a day of Sunday meetings)
  2. His disciples came to him.  Or as James 5:14 suggests, call for the elders.  Get around people that support you.  Nurture that support system in good times and call on them in the bad.
  3. He began to teach.  Jesus gave of himself in a way that affirmed his authority over circumstances.  What are you good at? Go do it.  Who needs  your help? Go volunteer.
  4. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Admit your weakness.  The beginning of healing is to admit you have a problem.  Often we need to do steps 1-3 before we can get to this stage.  That’s natural.  Admit your condition and turn to the path of looking for God.
  5. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.   It’s OK to grieve over past mistakes.  Admit them and let God forgive you, then agree with God and forgive yourself.  Take comfort that the past is past and you can make a new start.
  6. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Begin again.  Don’t rely on your own devices.  They got you where you were, and you didn’t like it there.  Adopt the position of a humble learner.  
  7. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  We have so many resources around.
  8. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Forgive.  It’s said that nurturing a past offense, holding a grudge, is like you drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.  Instead.  Show mercy. Forgive even if they don’t deserve it.  
  9. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.   When you remove other distractions, and try to see life from God’s perspective, you begin to see the true nature of God.  
  10. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.   The most respected people in history are the ones that stopped the arguments, that spoke out and acted to create peace.  They are called children of God by their society.
  11. Blessed are those who are persecuted. Not everyone will agree.  Expect opposition from those not as far along.  Forgive them with love and humility.  (see steps 6 & 8)
  12. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,  Take joy in the things of God.  Celebrate with friends.  Be the support to someone else in step 2.

It’s not an easy journey, and not always linear.  Sometimes we feel we can jump to step 10 or 11, then fall back to needing step 4, or step 1.  Start again.  Practice daily.  The rewards are out of this world.

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