Listening to the “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew’s Gospel these past few weeks, I find myself wondering how much we really believe its message and take it to heart. More and more it feels like the saying, “nice guys finish last,” are the actual words of wisdom and truth. After all, Donald Trump announcing, “You’re fired!” every week to the person who wasn’t shrewd and aggressive and even ruthless enough to earn a place in the Trump dynasty became top-rated television entertainment for us.
Frankly, I’m not getting it. When did a person with the moral values of Donald Trump become someone we want to emulate in any way? Is getting to the top of the financial ladder the end all and be all for us as a nation? Is it O.K. to do anything to get there? I have to confess I just haven’t been able to bring myself to watch these dog-eat-dog reality shows. So I may be judging too harshly. The basic premise of so many of these programs is difficult for me to reconcile with the Sermon on the Mount on which we are called to measure our own actions and attitudes. The approach to life of “dog-eat-dog,” and “I Win-You Lose” just isn’t what we hear in the Gospel.
And yet, it too often appears those who are dishonest and unjust in their treatment of others rise to the top of corporations and nations. We cannot deny the reality of those who believe justice is the same as revenge, that war is preferable to compromise and coexistence. We see an appalling lack of empathy and care for those less fortunate or different from ourselves. How in the world has the Sermon on the Mount survived as perhaps the most important message Jesus preached? How can it continue to compete with the Machiavelli’s and Napolean Bonaparte’s and even the Donald Trump’s throughout the course of history?
Only the inspired Word of God can hope to provide an alternative to a world that shouts to us that “Might is right!” and “The one with the most toys wins!” With the grace of God and the power of God’s Word, we know and believe that the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful and those who continue to work for world of peace and justice are the real winners. Wouldn’t it be great if we could create a society in which the top television shows had a slogan like, “You’re Hired!” or instead of getting voted off the island or out of the group, we waited anxiously each week to see a group of people finding ways to include and support each other building a better community? The Sermon on the Mount reminds us there’s plenty of room for all the winners in the reign of God. People who know God, know nice guys and gals are the only ones who truly finish first for theirs is the Kin-dom of God.