LUKE 14: 25-33

The Message

One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters – yes, even one’s own self! – can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple. “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’ “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce? “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

Membership has its responsibilities

Many organizations, clubs and associations provide benefits for their members. AARP members receive discounts on various travel and activities for retired adults. American Express Card holders get to purchase movie, concert and specialty items before they are offered to the public. Frequent flyers with most airlines can receive courtesy upgrades to first class and board the plane early when it is crowded.

Very rarely do you have a company advertise that you can have these great privileges but they come with a price. They will share the benefits and show the smiling faces of people enjoying the benefits but rarely do they try to sell you on buying their product by showing you someone writing the check, or waiting on hold for a customer service person.

Jesus was just a little different from the current advertising and marketing industry of today. He was a popular preacher doing home opportunity meetings and mountainside revivals. He noticed it and turned his attention to letting people know that this gathering was not meant to be a social club where everybody knows your name. To be a follower of Jesus Christ meant you were in training to be a leader of a new expression of God’s beloved community.

As we look at the Jesus call to discipleship I also do not see a lot of churches telling people, “Come join and this will be difficult, trying, frustrating and you will even have to carry a cross.” I believe that church should be the most meaningful, exciting, encouraging, empowering and engaging experience a person has each week so I understand the emphasis on smiling faces, the happy community and safe sanctuaries for youth and children. I believe as leaders we also have a responsibility to teach the true meaning of discipleship.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.

Your primary relationships must be realigned so that Jesus is primary. In practical terms this means the first fruits of everything.

  • Prayer in the morning
  • Tithing the first 10% of your income
  • Consistent time for studying the Word
  • Intentionally sharing the love of Christ with someone who is in need
  • Serving within the church community based on your gifts

When our family, co-workers, or neighbors are more important than our relationship with the community of faith where we fellowship then we may have good church members but poor disciples. Being there to pray for those who are grieving, comfort those who are hurting or nurture those who are growing in the faith begins with right relationships. The relationship that we have with Jesus and the beloved community is essential and non negotiable.

Accepting Jesus as Savior is easy for most people but moving Jesus to Lord means that you actually give control of your day to day life over to the teachings and example of how Jesus lived. This means the popular secular events may not be the focus of your live but the events of the church that exalts Jesus as Lord and in control of our lives becomes dominant in our Blackberry’s and handheld computers.

Yes I love Monday night football but Monday night football is an activity that we participate in. The purpose is for the men to gather, pray, share our faith, fellowship and eat wings. (Not necessarily in that order) As we invite non believers they get to share in our Christ centered fellowship around an event that is already important in their lives. Our fellowship is just one example but we are sure that they are other better examples available.

27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

The concept that you are going to take up a cross to follow Jesus challenges us on how we live our lives. Are we most interested in having no struggles, few challenges and no strife or are we focused on following the man on who suffered carrying a criminals cross without committing a crime, who suffered the pain of the being nailed to the cross with no witnesses to testify against him and came through victoriously in the resurrection with no crowds to cheer him on. The most amazing thing is that he did this all for each person in the sanctuary. You were so important to Jesus personally that he suffered for our iniquities so that we might have a right to the tree of life. Romans teaches us that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. We have access to that eternal life as followers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Since Jesus did all of that for us we should reserve our complaining when we have to be out delivering food beyond our normal bedtime or we have to fix a meal for a family who is camped out at the hospital waiting for a loved one to leave the recovery room after surgery. We will have some disappointments and there will be times that we will get frustrated but what we go through on behalf of the kingdom is a slight glimmer of what Jesus went through for us. The cross/battle/challenge must come if we ever expect to receive victory.

I appreciate being in good health because I have been sick
I appreciate enjoying friends and family because I have been lonely
I appreciate eating almost anything I want because I have been hungry
I appreciate having a house to live in because I have been homeless

33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

When your stuff is more important than following Jesus then you have a challenge. Dr. T G Benjamin is one of the most giving people that I know. Not for headlines or for others to say “Look what the Bishop did?” It is a part of his inner character. What is interesting is that his giving is contagious. I have gone back to visit Light of the World several times and all of those around him are generous and surprising so. I remember commenting on someone’s tie and handkerchief combination and when I got back to the hotel it was there with a note saying, “because I have been blessed I can be a blessing.” Can you have processions yes but the sin is when your processions have you. When your desire for things keeps you from tithing or your “toys” prevent you from blessing anyone else.

  • Jesus and the community of faith = your primary relationship
  • Carrying the your cross is a privilege that entitles you to victory
  • Your processions are gifts from God to be offered back to God