25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. [NRSV]
The Cost of Discipleship: Hate your family and carry your cross. How many of you want to sign up?
- The Cost of Discipleship: A building project that needs to be completed
- The Cost of Discipleship: A Battle as the underdog, who had the options for seeking peace.
- The Cost of Discipleship: Give away all your possessions. Who is left to follow?
Why so strict and exclusive?
Disciples redefined: Family comes second to Jesus. Still a hard saying but think of the covenant faith in the context of Jesus’s day: In his context: People would say, we are part of Aarons’ family, we are covered, we have connections.
Jesus redefines family as those who love God as our core family rather than automatically our biological family. (Be clear: I’m not saying that every thing under the umbrella of church should come first, but our relationship to God supersedes all others.
If that is not hard enough, Jesus redefines our self-worth. God does not measure us with a profit and loss statement. It is not about our wealth or debt. It is not about our good works or our sins.
Jesus calls into question first the relationships and then the things that we confuse our: 1 confidence and trust, 2 our value and worth, and 3 who’s work drives our lives.
Jesus speaks of carrying ‘the’ cross. The cross is the sign of ultimate self-less gift of placing all else down and picking up the very thing God calls us to do.
Often we define my cross is different from your cross. The catch is that the cross is neither mine nor your cross. It is God’s work that we carry.
- Have you ever wondered if we took these words literally that the church would not be struggling for members but would the greatest force for good?
- Have you ever wondered if we took these radical and extreme forces of guiding our lives that we would be free from so many rules, fears and limitations?
- Have you ever wondered if we took Jesus at his word in these basic actions, that we would see the same powers, healing, transformations, and life that Jesus shows?
We are quick to water them down. We excuse each other trying to make it easier on each other.
The two mini parables Jesus tells in the context of discipleship are about the process of building and the gift of discernment about choosing our battles.
These are the HOW TO part of this disciples lesson.
If the requirements are outrageous, so should be the ways to faithfully follow
First, as a building project, our life as a disciple is built over time. It is not immediate. Even the Apostle Paul with is conversion on the Damascus road, is transformed from passionate life of rule following, through a radical blindness, to see that the rest of his life was God and not his own. The progressions of faith in his letters give witness to the depth of faith that builds over time. The letter to the church at Thessaloniki addresses problems and disputes. The book of Romans his latest letter is thick with faithful thought and practice.
Second, discipleship is learning the wisdom to choose our battles. There is more than one way to show our faithfulness. We need to be cautious when were here there are four simple truths or seven habits or three priorities that sum of our lives.
We may have core values, but how we use those basic beliefs shapes us in 360 degrees.
The So What? Bottom line
Jesus makes it clear:
Discipleship is not easy, but it is worth seething through to the end.
Discipleship is about constant choices about our relationships, possessions and spiritual compass.
The challenge is for the church, filled with disciples to transform the world for Christ.
How we do it is not easy, but it is worth seeing it through
It calls for constant choices about our relationship, possession and spiritual compass.
Invitation to read “Remember the Future” Bishop Robert Schnase