In Retrospect

By:  Robert Brinsmead

I can clearly recall when I was a young man at college I was not really enamoured with the teaching of Jesus.  The Sermon on the Mount did not appear to contain any Gospel like I found in St. Paul.  I would have agreed with the Christian scholar who said that we live by the Gospel from that other Hill.  I was no doubt influenced by Luther who was inclined to mock people like Simon Menno who made, in Luther’s view, far too much about living by the Sermon on the Mount.

In the sunset years of my life, what has become preeminent to me is the teaching of the Man rather than what in Christianity evolved as the teaching about the Man (all of which spawned endless controversies as to both his person and work, and often set Christian against Christian).

It was Jesus who first coined the word Gospel. So this eventually led me to reflect on what was the Gospel according to Jesus. Amazingly I found it most clearly expressed in about 10 very clear versus in the so-called Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-48). Here  Jesus calls us to the practise of an unconditional and non-discriminating kind of love that embraces the people we tend to dislike the most, surprising them with a generosity of spirit, with unconditional forgiveness and with no thought of retaliation –  because this is what God is like. Here is Gospel from the most pristine source. Do this (Law) because this mirrors what God is like(Gospel).

This is asking us to do far more than love one another –  our own family, our own church or our own friends – for even the Mafia and infidels do this, as Jesus suggests.  This is asking us to freely, ungrudgingly and generously  relate to all the differing, prickly, heretical, annoying, hostile Others.  Why?  Because this is the way God always relates to them.  Wow!  This really blows the old sectarian me away by its simplicity and power.

I suspect Jesus would have taught something like this:   “You are saved by the sheer goodness, generosity and mercy of the Abba Father.”  I suggest he would have said this without any reference to himself, as for instance, “You are the light of the world…”  “Don’t call me good because there is none good but One, that is, God.”

“The Lord is good to all: he has compassion on all he has made…

The Lord is righteous is all his ways and loving towards all he has made.”   Psalm 145:9,17 NIV