Discussion Questions for Matthew 5:1-12 Bible Study from Leadership and Culture course, Crown College (MN), January 2015:
1. “What are the principal “languages” defining reality for us today? How do they shape our definitions (our hermeneutics) of what is real and important? What “blessings” do they offer?”
There are a number of languages that define today’s reality for us. While the easiest (and correct) answer is to simply state that “the world” has its own language, there are multiple subsets of languages that provide measures of influence to each of us, and many of these languages we are ready and willing to listen to. Some of them are good by nature and morally acceptable, and some are not very good or beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). The commitment to sin is yielding to a language that is in opposition to God. A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, responds to a different language than a person who denies both of these things.
These many different languages are associated with different lifestyles, professions, hobbies–virtually anything that each of us will participate in. Each one of these has a relative level of importance to us based upon our personality makeup. The language of a person who is a professional chef, for example, will be inspired with his own reality and importance, while a person who is an accountant operates very capably in his or her own sphere of influence (especially around tax time!). Family “languages” are different from business relationships (and can counter each other when there is a struggle with work-life balance), and of course, there are a myriad of different philosophies and lifestyles that we have been exposed to over time–some good, and some not so good.
The blessings of these different languages, ultimately, is in the eye of the beholder, and much of that has to do with whether or not the person has a rich, fulfilling, healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. A person who does not know Jesus Christ can believe that he or she is “blessed,” yet, their understanding of truth is rooted in spiritual blindness. Of all of these languages that shape how we view life, the overlay of Christ determines the true realization of blessings with the understanding that God is the genuine provider of all blessings that really matter (James 1:17).
2. “How does the Sermon on the Mount challenge the blessings offered by our society?”
The Sermon on the Mount is a departure from the vision of individuals who are influenced by the world’s position in many areas of life. We can associate this view with the context of the information in the Bible Study:
“All of the Sermon on the Mount challenges the language of Rome, the Jewish establishment and those who turn to violent resistance.” 
Jesus’ message is a challenge to today’s establishment, as well. Our society will readily embrace differentiating lifestyles as good and acceptable, and that everything is OK as long as one doesn’t criticize another person’s way of living. Even within the body of Christ, disputes have erupted within congregations over what is “good and acceptable.” Jesus addresses everyone within the body who remains faithful to Him and Him alone.
3. “In what ways do we see churches living according to the language of our societal context? And what are churches doing that reflect a different hermeneutic, like that of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount?”
This answer is in accord with #2 above. Society has had a dramatic influence on today’s church. Pope Francis has been in the news lately for several comments that reflected more of personal “worldly” views than church doctrinal views.  The Presbyterian church has adopted the world’s view of same-sex marriage and essentially put it in writing within the denomination’s Statement back in June, 2014.  There are many other examples of similar situations, and if it were not for the fact that people in Jesus Christ are already assured of the victory (John 16:33; Romans 8:37-39; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58), you would certainly believe that Satan’s strategy of “divide and conquer” is winning. Believers are implored to overcome and “unite and conquer”  in order to fully recognize God’s blessings within the body.
1 Mark Lau Branson & Juan F. Martinez (2011). Churches, Cultures & Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities. Copyright © 2011 InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL. page 124.
2 Article – Jemima Thackray (2015). Beware of the two faces of Pope Francis: he ain’t no liberal. The Telegraph © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015, London UK. Retrieved January 22, 2015 fromhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11362224/Pope-Francis-he-aint-no-liberal.-Beware-of-his-two-faces.html
3 Article – Anna Matranga (2015). Pope change his mind on breeding “like rabbits”? CBS News Copyright © 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. New York NY. Retrieved January 22, 2015 fromhttp://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-francis-walks-back-remark-about-catholics-breeding-like-rabbits/
4 Opinion – Michael Brown (2014). It Is Time to Leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Christian Post. Copyright © 2015 The Christian Post, Inc. Washington DC. Retrieved January 22, 2015 from http://www.christianpost.com/news/it-is-time-to-leave-the-presbyterian-church-u-s-a-121961/
5 Article – Keith Krell (2009). Unite and Conquer (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Bible.org. © 2015 Bible.org. Richardson TX. Retrieved January 22, 2015 fromhttps://bible.org/seriespage/2-unite-and-conquer-1-corinthians-110-17