Monday, June 23, 2014


The Truth of the Matter

Mark Daniels in a sermon:
Luke 14:25-33
An old bit of wisdom tells us, “Buyer beware.” It’s a good idea whatever we’re in the market for to be careful not to buy a “bill of goods” and to make sure that whoever’s trying to convince us of anything is engaging in “truth in advertising.”

Our Gospel lesson from Luke for today finds Jesus engaging in “truth in advertising.” He wants people to know exactly what is involved in following Him. God’s grace, His forgiveness and favor, is a free gift; but to grasp hold of it costs us everything, our whole lives. Jesus is intent on our knowing that. Jesus wants us to understand that there is a cost to being His disciple. He tells people, "Would-be believers, beware of what it means to follow Me."


And to modern narcissists who talk about needing to take care of themselves or look after themselves, Jesus says, “You will only be truly happy, you will only find yourself, when you lose yourself in Me.”


...Jesus tells two parables, each meant to urge those considering following Him to count the cost involved. In one, Jesus says that farmers, who in first century Judea where He lived, often built towers to give themselves early warning about marauding thieves or wild animals, would be crazy not to figure out whether they could afford the structures before starting to build them. Similarly, Jesus says, a king who didn’t know about the strength of an opposing army would be foolish to start a war with that army. Again, Jesus wants us to know that following Him isn’t easy.
I cannot help but reflect on how that speaks to how we do evangelism. As Mark points out, Jesus is here doing evangelism - He is calling people to Himself. And yet He does so in the most apparently off-putting way. "I want you to follow me - but I am telling you it is going to be a pain-in-the-neck." The Marine Corps seeks recruits in the same way. Not everyone is cut out to be a marine.

I wonder if we are to conclude that not everyone is cut out to be a Christian? I am not prepared to answer that definitively. I do know that in a world where God has given us freedom, He is prepared to let some go. But how that will all work out in the end I really have not figured out.

What I do know is that what currently passes for evangelism is not inviting people to the table that Jesus discusses in this passage. We invite people to a feast and Jesus is talking about boot camp. Is it any wonder then that people end up disillusioned with the church?

But what really bothers me is the why we do this. I think we do it so WE do not have to go to boot camp either. We pretend to be Christians like young boys with plastic guns pretending to be soldiers. We misrepresent Christ to people because we are unwilling to face Him ourselves.

Mark concludes his sermon by talking about Christ's promise to provide us the resources to do what He asks of us. Resources we have not tapped. If we did, this would not be such a hard sell.


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