Tim Keller | May 16, 1999
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount provides a roadmap to establish a new type of community. It shows us how knowing Jesus changes the way we treat our Christian brothers and sisters, highlighting forgiveness, love for those who dislike us, avoiding judgment, and aiming to reflect God’s goodness. These teachings show how powerfully the gospel can create a close-knit community rooted in Christ.
1. The necessity of this new community
Becoming a Christian means becoming part of a new family where your fellow believers are like your brothers and sisters, indicating the special bond we share. This bond, formed through Jesus, is strong and unconditional, challenging us to treat all Christians as family, regardless of our personal likes or dislikes. This community is key for our spiritual growth and God’s work in our lives, turning strangers into friends and providing a supportive atmosphere.
2. The intensity of this new community
Jesus’ teachings underscore the depth of our relationships with other Christians, highlighting the importance of personal responsibility and shared spirituality. Personal responsibility involves caring for others’ spiritual growth, even when things are tough, and seeking forgiveness regardless of who is at fault. Shared spirituality discourages worshipping alone, reminding us that as we are all part of God’s spiritual house, His Spirit lives in us collectively, which helps us know God better and express our faith more richly.
3. The symmetry of this new community
Jesus stresses the need for a balance between truth and love in our relationships, warning against judgment and unhealthy love. He encourages us to share truth humbly, see God’s potential in others, and approach them with genuine love. We can find this balance by studying and imitating how Jesus interacted with people.
4. The causality of this new community
Jesus teaches us not to judge, not in the sense of avoiding critical thinking, but from condemning others, a lesson we learn when we remember that Jesus took our punishment. Spiritual growth requires the support and guidance of Christian friends, as well as the responsibility and shared spirituality found in small groups. While no church is perfect, committing to a specific church and embracing its community of believers is vital for experiencing growth and peace.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
February Book Offer