During the Season of Lent, the members and friends of Richmond’s First Baptist Church studied a book called The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith. Some of them met in homes, some in Sunday school classes, some came to the Journey to the Cross services, and some did all of the above. It was a powerful community-building exercise, and I think we all learned a great deal.
So, now what?
The original plan was this: that we would spend the Season of Lent learning about the Good and Beautiful Life, that we would spend the Season of Easter living the Good and Beautiful Life, and then spend the Season of Pentecost sharing the Good and Beautiful Life.
Learning, living, sharing. Got it?
According to that plan we are now in the Great Fifty Days of the Easter season (April 5 through May 23), the season of living the life. But how do we do that? Or, rather, how do we keep on doing it?
Here’s one suggestion:
The Good and Beautiful Life is essentially a study of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. James Bryan Smith’s premise is that in these chapters Jesus explains what life in God’s kingdom looks like and what it would take to live it. The life of the kingdom is the good and beautiful life, Smith argues, and if we could learn to do what Jesus says we would know that.
So, try this.
In the remainder of this season, all the way up to May 24, the Day of Pentecost, try reading the Sermon on the Mount as a kind of daily devotion. If you’re reading this on your computer, you can simply click HERE and go to a page that has the whole sermon waiting for you in the New Revised Standard Version. Click that same link tomorrow and try reading it in a different version, the Message, or the NIV. Maybe you could read a different version every day, just to keep it fresh.
My hope is this: that if you saturate yourself in that sermon, if you sink down into its message day after day, you will begin to live the life it describes. You will trust God more. You will hate others less. You will pluck up the seed of sin before it can take root. You will know that you are blessed. You will be like the one who built his house on a rock.
Try it! Live it! And then get ready to share it.
A life like this will be too good and beautiful to keep to yourself.