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2-5-23 Peculiar People

Peculiar People (Matthew 5:13-20)

David Peterson / General

Matthew 5:13–20

Sermon type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: Jesus comes to bring a new kind of righteousness by supplying the missing ingredient, God’s power and presence at work in our lives. We are called to bring this gift to the world. We are called to mission.


1. Disciples are called to mission, to be a blessing to the world

I. There is a need (Matt. 5:13-16)

1. Something is missing

a. An ingredient — Salt (a simple example, nuts)

b. Life — a city set on a hill (Wisconsin in the dead of winter)

II. “You” are the Answer (Matt. 5:13, 14)

1. It is not first of all information, though information is needed

Harvard Student Has Book Knowledge About Goodness

Robert Coles, a former professor at Harvard published an article titled “The Disparity Between Intellect and Character.” The piece was about “the task of connecting intellect to character.” He adds, “This task is daunting.”

His essay was occasioned by an encounter with one of his students over the moral insensitivity—is it hard for him to say “immoral behavior of other students, some of the best and brightest at Harvard.” This student was a young woman of “a Midwestern, working class background” where, as is well known, things like “right answers” and “ideology” remain strong. She cleaned student rooms to help pay her way through the university.

Again and again, she reported to Coles, people who were in classes with her treated her ungraciously because of her lower economic position, without simple courtesy and respect, and often were rude and sometimes crude to her. She was repeatedly propositioned for sex by one young student in particular as she went about her work. He was a man with whom she had had two “moral reasoning” courses, in which he excelled and received the highest of grades.

This pattern of treatment led her to quit her job and leave school—and to have something like an exit interview with Coles. She reviewed not only the behavior of her fellow students, but also the long list of highly educated people who have perpetrated the atrocities for which the twentieth century is famous. She concluded by saying to him, “I’ve been taking all these philosophy courses, and we talk about what’s true, what’s important, what’s good. Well, how do you teach people to be good? What’s the point of knowing good if you don’t keep trying to become a good person?”

Source: Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (Harper Collins, 2001), p. 3-4

2. It’s not even good works in and of themselves, though Jesus mentions good works.

3. Don’t believe me? The righteousness of the scribes and pharisees. It’s a different way of being

Psychologists Discover What Makes People Happy

Psychologists are studying what makes people happy. “Materialism is toxic for happiness,” says University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener. Even rich materialists aren’t as happy as those who care less about getting and spending. The article also quoted University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson, who indicated forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness. Peterson said, “It’s the queen of all virtues, and probably the hardest to come by.”

Source: Marilyn Elias, “Psychologists now know what makes people happy,” USA Today (12-9-02)

III. “You” are the Answer (Matt. 5:20)

1. Those who described in the beatitudes. Those impacted in their inner being

2. Who are they? Those under the influence of Christ.

3. What is the reality? The Spirit.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with Christ. The Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ. Therefore, if I am filled with the Spirit, I am abiding in Christ.… And if I am controlled and empowered by Christ, He will be walking around in my body, living His resurrection life in and through me.—Bill Bright

The ministry of the Spirit is Christo-centric. The test of any professed movement of the Spirit whether in personal or corporate experience is the place it gives to Christ.—J. Oswald Sanders

Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed., p. 437). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

“Without the Holy Spirit, God is far away, Christ belongs to the past, the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is merely an organisation, authority is domination, mission is propaganda, worship is an evocation, and Christian active is a slave-morality.”

SOURCE: Metropolitan Ignatius of Latakia, in an address at the World Council of Churches 4th Assembly, Uppsala (July 4, 1968).

“It’s no use giving me a play like King Lear or Hamlet, and telling me to write plays like that. Shakespeare could do it; I can’t. And it’s no use giving me the life of Jesus and telling me to live a life like that. Jesus could do it; I can’t. But if the genius of Shakespeare could come and live in me; then I could write plays like that. And if the spirit of Jesus could come and live in me, then I could live a life like that.”

—William Temple


In 1871 the New York Herald sent Henry Stanley to Africa in search of the missionary, David Livingstone, who was long overdue. After unbelievable hardships, the journalist found the explorer in central Africa, where he spent four months with him. Stanley went to Africa a conceited and confirmed atheist, but Livingstone’s influence, gentleness, genuineness, goodness, and zeal won Stanley. Stanley became a Christian, saying, “I was converted by him, although he had not tried to do it.”

Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 183). Broadman & Holman Publishers.


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