Throughout the gospels it becomes very clear that, like the prophets of Israel before him, Jesus is not interested in mere belief. Rather, he is interested in belief that constantly and consistently gives rise to action. At the same time, he is not interested simply in action for the sake of action. Instead, he has a strong conviction that actions can be transformative.
All of this becomes apparent as Jesus shifts his attention from what not to do to what to do at the beginning of Matthew 6, about halfway through the Sermon on the Mount. While he is quite happy that most of the folks listening to him seem to be committed to regularly giving, praying, and fasting, Jesus is intent on highlighting these practices as filled with potential for two very different outcomes. The first is that these practices could produce puffed-up egos, people who advertise their good deeds because their sense of self is almost entirely based on what others think of them. The other option is that these practices, along with the work of the Holy Spirit, might transform their practitioners into people whose hearts and minds and lives have been shaped by the nature and character and will of God. It is this second outcome, this transformative outcome, that Jesus is hoping all who follow him will experience.
As we strive to think about what it would mean to commit ourselves to the practices of giving, praying, and fasting in such a way that we might prioritize transformation over achievement, here are 3 videos for your consideration, each drawn from the Open series of our archives, each of which captures their respective themes so well I couldn’t pass up the chance to share them one more time.
Questions for Reflection
1. In what ways has God already worked to transform you through the act of giving? How might God be inviting you to give in secretive, transformative ways at this moment?
2. In what ways has God already worked to transform you through the act of praying? How might God be inviting you into new patterns of prayer that will change you from the inside out?
3. In what ways has God already worked to transform you through the act of fasting? How might God be inviting you to say no, to fast, so that you can know more deeply the truth that God is all you need?
The Good Life Playlist
If music speaks to your soul, make this playlist–comprised of songs that explore the various themes in the Sermon on the Mount–a part of the soundtrack of your life as we explore together The Good Life Jesus invites us to live.