Someone might say, “Peter, I am trying to think along with you on this, but honestly, I have a problem. I can’t quite think of it that way. I wasn’t raised that way. For me, when I think about the true Christian religion, I think about worshiping God and Jesus Christ, glorifying them, singing, worshiping, and praising them.” I interrupt to explain, “What you are saying is fine. That’s appropriate, but just keep in mind that it is not a matter of just going through some religious routine because God wants us to love him more and more.”
My friend replies, “Peter, that’s not my problem. It is about making my everyday dealing with people so supremely important to God. I just don’t see how my everyday dealings with people could be that important to God. I try to be honest and truthful and upright with people, but I don’t think of how I treat all the people in my life as being at the very center of my worship for God and Jesus.” I understand his comment.
I tell him, “I know how much you want to please God and Jesus, so think about it this way: When God was setting up His approved worship with the Jews, at the base of it all were the Ten Commandments. Three Commandments were about dealing with God. One was about rest. But six out of the ten were about how you deal with people!
“Six out of ten! The majority of the cornerstones of approved worship were about how to deal with people: ‘Honor your parents. Don’t commit adultery or steal or kill or lie or covet.’
“These six commands about how to deal with others are the majority of the basics of the approved worship, as prescribed by God himself! What does that say to you?”
My friend says, “Okay Peter, I’ve got that, and it’s a great point, but I also think when Jesus came along, He spiritualized everything more, so maybe it isn’t quite that way now for Christians?”
“Well, think through this with me. Jesus came as the founder of true and pure worship, and the Sermon on the Mount is regarded by Bible scholars everywhere as the way Christians are to live under God’s rule. As to its critical importance, you can read the writings of Tertullian, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Billy Graham, it doesn’t matter, all these authority people regard the Sermon on the Mount as the description of the way Christians are expected to live in worship of God and Jesus Christ.
“Now, if I read the Sermon on the Mount to you, it takes 13 minutes. If I take a little time with it, it takes 15 minutes. The Sermon contains things about worship of God, but this short 15-minute message has 25 instructions about how to deal with people—25 instructions about dealing with people in a 15-minute speech! In the greatest speech ever recorded and from the lips of Jesus Christ himself!”
We need to rethink the question: What is Christianity about?
Just how important to God is the way we deal with one another? The Sermon on the Mount by Jesus Christ answers that question as shown above. 25 in 15! An instruction every 36 seconds to emphasize the importance of human relations!
Also, please remember how, in that sermon, Jesus himself gave us a specific example to show the correct priority a Christian must have. This example by Jesus proved once and for all how important agape love and the Golden Rule are to Christianity! Don’t miss this!
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells how important it is to not judge others or insult them or smear their reputation. Then he says at Matthew 5:22, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and then remember that your brother has something against you…”
Stop! What do you think that man should do? This is a great day for that man as he brings a special gift to God. A great and special day in his religious relationship with God. Then he remembers that some person has something against him.
Here is Jesus’s astonishing answer, “Leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift to God.”
What?!? What is Jesus telling us? How important are our relations with people? What is our priority? Here it is. WE CANNOT BE RIGHT WITH GOD UNTIL WE ARE RIGHT WITH PEOPLE! “First, go and be reconciled, then come with your worship to God!” That is how important our Great Commandment and our agape love for other people is!
Here, Jesus forever opens our minds to a fuller understanding of what true Christianity is: more and more love of God and love of others. Two things.
That is what Christianity is about, according to Jesus Christ. From his lips.