LLLC by Kim Cassady

Eleven years ago, the congregation of PCE adopted its purpose statement.  Do you know what it is?  If someone asked, “what is our purpose?”, could you very quickly and easily tell them?  Can you site scripture that supports our purpose statement?  Do you live our purpose?

I ask these questions, not to make anyone feel uncomfortable but rather just to get us thinking about our purpose statement and what it means for each of us.  TO LIVE AND LOVE LIKE CHRIST (LLLC) is just words with no real meaning, no impact on our lives, if we don’t internalize them and put them into practice.  As James wrote, “Do not merely listen to the word….  Do what it says.”  (James 1:22). How do we do what it says?

To live and love are action words; they call us to do something.  What are we to do?  What word are we to listen to and do what it says?  Consider the so called Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7.  This is Jesus own words directed at teaching his disciples.  While there were great crowds listening in, “His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”  (Matt 5:1).  At that time his disciples were just four, Peter, Andrew, James and John.  So Jesus was teaching them and us how to live as he would have us live.  The “sermon” is a primer for life.  We should read it, study it, even memorize it.  Once we do that and then continue reading other books of the Bible, we will realize that much of what is written by others reflects what Jesus said in this “sermon.”

A good way to really get into the “Sermon on the Mount” is to participate in Pastor Jeff’s Bible study drawn from the book Sermon on the Mount , A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven by Amy-Jill Levine.  Ms Levine does a very in-depth job of examining Jesus’ words, often bringing in definitions from the original language.  And her point of view is very helpful;  she is an Orthodox Jew who is a professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.  She relates much of what Jesus says to Torah which gives meaning to Jesus statement that he came “…not to abolish the Law or the Prophets … but to fulfill them.” (Matt 5:17). As she writes in the introduction, “The kingdom of heaven occurs when people take the words of Jesus in these chapters to heart and live into them.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, perhaps the modern day epitome of a disciple of Jesus, used the “Sermon on the Mount” as his guide for living.  Jesus ending his sermon saying “…everyone who hears these words…and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  (Matt 7:24). It’s never too late to “live into” the words of Jesus. Bonhoeffer wrote in regard to the sermon, “Only in the doing of it does the word of Jesus retain its honor, might and power among us.  The storm can rage…but it cannot shatter that union with him…” Please consider participating in Pastor Jeff’s study or at least read Ms Levine’s book or alternatively read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (although beware, this is a very heavy read).  You will be blessed by knowing and practicing Jesus’ words.