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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 he might mention the nation’s current financial struggles and worries about things like inflation? Would he address hot-button topics such as the current political state of our country and who we, as his disciples, are voting for? Is it possible Jesus would address our feelings toward these topics and how it impacts our relationship with him? Well, he already has in his Sermon on the Mount.
In my new book, “18 Minutes with Jesus: Straight Talk from the Savior about the Things That Matter Most,” I address these topics and more, and dig deep into what is known as one of Jesus’ most powerful sermons. Though brief, the powerful 18-minute long Sermon gets straight to the heart of the subjects 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 on and do the right things and easy to fall into the many worldly traps laid out before us. As Jesus explained, it is foolish for us to chase temporal things such as earthly wealth that is temporary instead of heavenly wealth which is eternal. Jesus said wealth can be easily lost (think a plummeting stock market) or destroyed by moths and rust (or today by inflation and high interest rates).
In Matthew 6:19-34 Jesus explains that we have a decision to make when it comes to wealth and worry. 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 don’t see. And decide if God is our master or if money is.
Similarly, many of the other principles preached in this Sermon, such as the eight Beatitudes, are at stake in today’s decaying society. We are living 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 perspectives and practices that are radically counter cultural.
But, we cannot simply stop with trying to effect 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 better their world. In this famous sermon, Jesus called His followers to be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). In Jesus’ day, salt was a preservative that couldn’t prevent the decay of meat, but it could delay the decay and give the meat a longer shelf life.
Similarly, Christ’s followers can slow the decay of the culture and collapse of the world by pushing back against the moral and spiritual rot of the world. One way Christians slow the decay of the culture is by the leaders they elect.
My friend Cal Thomas famously said, “The Kingdom of God is not going to coming riding in on Air Force One.” Fair enough. Nevertheless, the leaders we elect determine the policies we follow and those policies determine the moral and spiritual direction of our country.
Jesus concludes His sermon by addressing our eternal destiny. To spend eternity with God one must first choose to walk the narrow road. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14, there are not many ways to Heaven, but only one way. And so that no one misunderstands that way, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).
With each and every decision we make we are choosing to walk the wide path and enter the wide gate with the masses that leads to destruction or to walk the narrow way and choose to enter the narrow gate that leads to the only road that leads to a life – and an eternity – experiencing God’s blessings.