MY first serious encounter with the Bible was reading the Sermon on the Mount. The words spoke to me with such power that they turned my life around. Previously, I had had two constant companions -- fear and worry. But the Sermon on the Mount made God a living reality to me. It uplifted my thought to a more spiritual view of God and of my fellowman. I saw that everyone is loved by God, including me, and that we express this love by loving one another.
I knew that what I was reading was true. I recognized that the power of God was capable of healing all the ills of the flesh. I found that the more love I expressed, the less fear I felt. As I began living what I was learning from the Bible, I also began to find a joy in living that I hadn't felt before.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus tells us how to love God, and our neighbor as ourself. It rebukes pride and self-righteousness, urges humility and brotherly love. Though this sermon is a code of conduct for all time, it also cautions us against making a public display of our ``righteousness.'' Jesus said, ``When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.''1
It is the same with praying; prayer is a sacred, private communion between us and God, not something to show off about. Jesus taught us how to pray and gave us the Lord's Prayer in this sermon. This humble, powerful prayer to ``our Father'' -- God -- shows us how essential humility is to the Christian life. As we learn to pray in this way, we don't judge, condemn, or despise others. Instead we reach out for the blessings that Jesus promised in the Beatitudes.2
Endeavoring to live what we learn from the Sermon on the Mount not only helps us to progress spiritually ourselves; it also helps us to bring a degree of Christly compassion to the world. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, -- self-will, self-justification, and self-love, -- which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death.''3
While ``self-will, self-justification, and self-love'' -- stubborn, resistant qualities of thought -- would blind us to who and what we really are, the loved and loving children of God, obedience to God frees us from their bondage. And the Sermon on the Mount shows us how best to obey Him -- how best to express our true nature as man made in the likeness of God, the ideal man.
Christian Science explains that man, in reality, has no mortal selfhood and no mind apart from God. He has the God-given ability to express all the lovely spiritual qualities that belong to God, divine Love, and these are indestructible and eternal.
Of this man, Mrs. Eddy writes: ``Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas;...that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.''4
Jesus urged on us the ``solvent of Love'' when he commanded us to be kind, to love our enemies, to do good, to pray for those who persecute us, to love God instead of money, and above all to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Obeying his instructions a little better each day can make all the difference in our lives.
1Matthew 6:3. 2See Matthew 5:1-12. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 242. 4Ibid., p. 475.