Living out, both as individuals and as a gathered-church, the Sermon of the Mount, should appear as a threat to the social and cultural status quo and to those invested in maintaining this status quo. As such, Sermon on the Mount living cannot help but challenge the way things are.
Interestingly, in the Sermon on the Mount there is no mention of ranting on public platforms as the means to challenge the powers, no mention of protesting or boycotting, no calls for platforms to leverage any form of power, no voice nor stones–only light and salt (i.e., living in community, that is as church); rather we are not to practice our righteousness hypocritically for the applause and/or affirmation of others (and you don't get invited to be an A-list Christian speaker without that applause), not to judge, and are to do to others how you want to be treated (no matter how you are treated by them).
Living out the Sermon on the Mount is meant for church, a social group whose allegiance is to the risen Lord Jesus, not to be attempted solo, for apart from the gospel at work in the flock of God, encouraging one another and loving one another, such living is impossible. The Sermon on the Mount is not possible for the State to legislate by law apart from granting power to some to enforce by forms of punishment and violence.
Surprisingly we seem to be doing the opposite. We love the opposite, because we like power, whether the power of the crowd (i.e., the mob) or the power of platformed applause. Sermon on the Mount living is the opposite of power. And, we are impatient. Sermon on the Mount living demands patience. And, we trust our leverage and platforms. Sermon on the Mount living calls for extraordinary, faithful trust in God's ability to work in the affairs of humankind, and thus to be often hidden and away from the applause of others. It is no wonder that the first two book volumes produced by the church were on "Patience" (i.e., Tertullian and Cyprian).
No one, especially Jesus, said this Sermon on the Mount living is easy. This is why the gate is narrow to this life, the life imagined by the Beatitudes. We, as church and, especially, our individual elite-celebrity Christians, seek to use the wide and broad way (judging, law and thus State enforced punishment and retaliation, encouraging hatred and others to judge, and non-forgiveness, and the building of power and leverage (the complete opposite of the Sermon on the Mount), which leads to destruction.
And just in case we didn't get that the Sermon on the Mount is actually God's word to his church, we are to build on the Rock of this Word and not the sands shifting power.
God, forgive me for not living out the Sermon on the Mount and for being all too willing to call the church and other Christians to live out the wide and broad way to get our way in this world.
*Check out as a part of this thread, Matthew 6:1-18 as a reflection on the Beatitudes >> Click Here
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.