Let’s Get Practical

Meghan Vogel, as far as anyone knew, was just your typical high school student.

What she did, however, was anything but typical.

It was extraordinary.

Meghan, from West Liberty, Ohio, had already won the 1600-meter state track championship. Trailing in the 3200-meter race, Meghan saw another runner collapse ahead of her. She could have seen a rival’s fall as an opportunity to gain an advantage. Instead, she saw it as an opportunity to care. Meghan helped Arden McMath to her feet. She then placed Arden’s limp arm around her neck and she supported her until together they crossed the finish line.

Meghan was modest in her heroism. “I knew any girl on that field would do that for me,” she said, “so I was going to do that for Arden.”

It’s a simple premise – and a simple faith.

A youth willing to put her idealism into selfless practice is always inspiring. One may only hope that Meghan doesn’t become jaded when she enters a sometimes ruthless world where dogs still devour other dogs. After all, it’s newsworthy when we see the Golden Rule put to the test. And it’s just another day when we see it trampled.

Self-interest is the norm. We expect it. Self-denial is the exception. We’re amazed by it.

For centuries, theologians and philosophers have argued that Jesus couldn’t possibly have thought that people would actually try and live by his Sermon on the Mount. How realistic is it to think that people – even Christ’s own followers – would recognize their spiritual poverty and mourn over it, live in humility and meekness, hunger and thirst for justice, seek purity of heart and show mercy to others? Is Jesus really expecting his disciples to control their anger, forgive others, love their enemies and trust God for all their needs?

That’s great for heaven someday – but not for the here and now.

The here and now is for the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness, not idealism.

Look after yourself. This is what the world teaches us every day.

Even life in the church tells us quite often that Jesus’ most famous sermon is viewed as more pie in the sky than food for the soul. The Sermon on the Mount is certainly beautiful. It’s just not very practical.

The problem with this thinking – especially within the Body of believers called the church – is that the entire New Testament commands us, through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, to live out the Sermon on the Mount. The Bible tells us plainly that we must flesh out, in very realistic and practical ways, this whole business.  The teaching and preaching of Jesus is clearly intended to directly impact how we live and how we treat others.

If it doesn’t, then we aren’t his followers.

Over and over again we are told to “love one another”. Jesus said this was his “new commandment” (John 13:34). He went so far to say that this was the single, truest, most visible sign of our genuine faith. “By this will all men know that you are my disciples.”(John 13:35, KJV, emphasis added).

Love is the mark of the Christian.

Paul tells us that we are to be “devoted to one another”, to “honor one another” and to “live in harmony with one another.” (Romans 12: 10,16, NLT). Paul was as absolute about this as Jesus was. “Let no debt remain,” he wrote to the Romans, “except the continuing debt to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” (Romans 13:8, NLT).

It doesn’t stop with the command to love. The Bible goes on to define what love is and how it is shown.

Practically speaking and practically living.

We’re told to “agree with one another,”  “accept one another”, “serve one another”, “be patient with one another” ,  “carry one another’s burdens”,  “support the weak”, “submit to one another”, “encourage one another”, “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other…” and to “live in harmony with one another.” (I Cor.1:10; Romans 15:7; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:2; Galatians 6:2; I Thessalonians 5:14; Ephesians 5:21; Hebrews 3:13; Ephesians 4:32; Romans 12:16).

The New Testament is the practical owner’s manual for the Sermon on the Mount.

It pulsates with rubber-meets-the-road living.

All this “one-anothering” is what made the first church in Jerusalem the exciting, dynamic and vital organism that turned the world upside down.  It’s what gives flesh and blood to Christianity today.

Practice more than profession; living more than telling. It’s what the non-follower wants to see in you and me.

When an early believer stumbled and fell on the track, someone else cared enough to stop, pick her up, put her arm around her shoulder and help her cross the finish line.

It’s always been true.

What Meghan Vogel did is what we need to do – for “one another” – at every opportunity God gives us.

How should we live?

Let’s get practical.

May God bless you and your family.

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Filed under Christian World View, Faith, Religion

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