Sermon on the mount: don't get what you need by judging others, or by manipulation - simply ask, seek and knock - be clear. Be aware of how your concept of God affects how you treat others. "Knowing God" is directly tied to how you treat other people. Don't follow teachers, whose teachings destroy your life - if it isn't working, then dump it.
Jesus assumes a community that can talk through darkness, with the sole purpose of bringing light to it. Gossip makes us consumed with self-preservation, and destroys that necessary environment of openness and honesty. When we neglect correction, we are on a slippery slope to destruction. You don't have to fall on purpose; you just have to live with no feedback, and destruction will be a natural part of your life.
Matthew, Chapter 7. This is the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is preaching a sermon. I started to get fascinated with Jesus as a sermon preacher, because I became friends with some atheists - agnostics really. What I found, once I became their friend, is that they hadn't rejected Jesus at all; they had just rejected the image of Jesus that was presented to them. There's a big difference by the way; and so as I got talking to them about this, the way I had to approach Jesus with them is: Jesus as a teacher of a way to live; because they really weren't buying the whole: He was born of a virgin thing. They really weren't buying the whole: He's the Son of God thing.
That didn't make much sense to them, and the reason it didn't make much sense is partly because, when they were kids, the way it was presented was horrible. So they sort of learned away from that, but they were totally willing to look at someone's philosophy of living, and what I did when I sat down with them is, they got so fascinated with Jesus' way of living, that they now have both submitted their lives to living the way Jesus lived. They came to me and they said: if Jesus is as nice as you make Him seem, then He won't mind us living the way He wants us to live, while we work out the whole God thing. I said: no, He won't, that'd be great.
So it's very important to look at the Sermon on the Mount as a sermon. It's very inappropriate to pick one thing out of a sermon, and make it say something that the sermon isn't saying. So that's very inappropriate. Let's say in his life, he had to give one of his children 12 spankings okay, just in their whole life - 12 spankings, and they needed it right, so he had to do that. Let's say I was there for all 12 times, and I took a video of it right; then someone later said: hey, do you know this guy? I said: yes, I know this guy. Well, what kind of dad is he? I say: you know, I don't know what kind of dad he is, but I have video - let's check the video. So I plug the video camera in, and on this video camera is all 12 spankings that he gave his kid. Is that fair to him as a father?
[No.] No, no, because it doesn't take into account the reason why, the context. It doesn't take into account what he was trying to prune off his kid's life, so they don't ruin their life at 30. It doesn't take into account that he's up at 5am every day blessing his children; doesn't take into account that his children love him to this day; it doesn't take into account all of these things - so it's totally inappropriate when people do that with God all the time. They take this one little scripture out, and they make it everything; like it is inappropriate to preach Josiah 1 without Josiah 3. Josiah 1 says: I will break your back. You will regret the day you were ever born. You are never going to be my people. I will never forgive you, you will surely be cast off from my presence. It sounds horrible!
That's Josiah 1, but Josiah 3, says this: To those of you I said: you're not My people - you're My people. To those of you I said: I'd break your back - I would never hurt you. To those of you I said: I would never forgive - I'll forgive you. To those of you I said: I'll hold your stuff against you forever - I will never hold your stuff against you forever, for I am a God, and not a man. By Josiah 11, He says this: oh how could I ever have turned My back on you, oh Israel, for you are My people. You cannot preach Josiah 1 without reading to the end, and at least giving that credence. And so this is one of those scriptures that gets taken by itself, and it becomes horrible. This is the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and this is what it says:
Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.
Now if you grow up in white-people church, you instantly when you read this, get images of what two things? Heaven and hell. The problem with that is that there's no mention of heaven anywhere in this sermon; nor is there a mention, anywhere close to this, of anything resembling hell. To make this statement about heaven and hell, you have to remove the statement entirely from the context of the sermon He was preaching. You can't do that - and if you do that, Christianity's message gets entirely uncompelling. All of a sudden, our message becomes: unfortunately, most of the world is doomed. Oh, join us! That is such a positive, uplifting, hope-giving, love-inducing message: most people are doomed, unfortunately. No! Of course not! This is a part of a sermon. Now to understand the sermon, you have to understand the euphemisms, and the figures of speech within the culture. First: light, life and increase. Light, life and increase, these are three synonymous words, that are used in Hebrew culture, that talk about anything that brings your life to: wholeness, abundance and shalom. It is synonymous to a realm of living that means you're choosing God's ways - life, light and increase.