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There’s this tendency in the Christian faith, or at least something that looks like Christian faith, to believe in a narrative that goes something like this: there’s this future reward of a place called heaven, a place of unlimited wealth and pleasure, probably the unlimited version of what you have right now. And if you can keep up a certain standard of spirituality, doing things like reading your Bible every day, attending church, tithing, telling a good conversion story, attending prayer meetings, God will stay happy with you, and you get to go “up there.” If you can’t, well…

But here’s the deal: Jesus comes on the scene, and he immediately starts talking about the Kingdom of Heaven. Not Club Med Heaven; the Kingdom of Heaven. And then he starts talking about the people who belong there, and what it’s all about; and what the spiritual standard actually is for those who are seeking it. And it turns everything upside down. What Jesus presents in the Sermon on the Mount, which in the book of Matthew is the very first recorded teaching of Jesus, is a radically new vision of the kind of humanity God wants for you, and the kind of life he wants you to live, and the kind of kingdom God rules. The Sermon on the Mount is a radical revision, a new way to see, and the question Jesus ultimately asks us is this: where do your allegiances lie? With the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of earth?