Summary: Explains how Discipleship is not a hobby or 1/2 time committment.
Reverend John Thomas the president of the United Church of Christ told of his 2002 experience in China in a sermon he gave in September 2004.
“I met many pastors and church leaders who had suffered terribly during the years of the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao and his fanatical following of students. Their churches had been shut down, and they had been sent to years of harsh living away from home and family for what was called re-education on the factory floor or in the rice paddies of rural villages. Some watched family members sent off to prison, and many endure chronic health problems today resulting from the brutal treatment they received in those awful years.”
“All had productive years of ministry stolen from them. Yet, none of the people I visited spoke of those times with bitterness or resentment. None of them held up their personal experience as cause for special commendation. It was simply the cost they had to bear in their time and place for being a disciple of Jesus. One old pastor put it well: "God used those years in the fields to help us learn how to be a church of the poor. Before that, we had been a church of the educated, of the intellectuals. Now we know how to be a church for the poor." His simple eloquence reminded me of Joseph, after his father’s death, meeting the brothers who had tried to kill him. "You meant it for evil," he told them, "but God meant it for good that an entire people might live."
In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus says, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:27 NIV) In the testimony given by Reverend Thomas, the pastor he was talking with remarked how their church used to be a church of the educated and the intellectuals, but God had used their time of strife as way to bring them back to their foundation.
What that pastor was telling Reverend Thomas was that basically their church had forgotten their roots. As Jesus would say, they had forgotten the cross they were to bear.
Jesus reminds us in verse 27 that as his followers we must be willing to live under the sentence of death and suffer humiliation. In fact through out this lesson He is reminding us that we must be willing to sacrifice everything to follow Him. In other words there can be no half time discipleship. Our discipleship in Jesus Christ is a twenty four hour seven days a week commitment.
Sometimes Christians, church, or a denomination can forget to whom they are in service to. Paul reminds Philemon that he is still a slave to Jesus even in Paul’s old age.
Jesus reminds us that we should be willing to sacrifice all that we have in this world to serve Him. This does not mean that we should take everything we have today and give it away in order to be good followers of Christ. So what does it mean for us to be willing to sacrifice all that we have, and why is it so important to our walk with Christ?
In Matthew 22:37 Jesus stated, `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ To put this into perspective with today’s lesson from Luke. According to Jesus, if we truly love God he should be first in our hearts. When we put others ahead of God, we are in essence committing idolatry. Moreover by putting others ahead of God, then we find ourselves less willing to do all we can for God.
For example, when we think about our spouses, children, or friends who among us would not do all they could to help that person out? Who among us would not be willing to place our selves in danger in order to rescue that person from certain harm?
We all would do everything possible to make sure that none of them came to harm. We do this because we love them, right?
So, then we who love the Lord should do all we can to serve Him in every way we possibly can. Although we do try our best, we sometimes fall short of where we should be, don’t we?
We fall short because we are human. We fall short because our lives tend to be focused on the here and now. We as humans also tend to focus more on what we can see, feel, and touch. Sometimes God seems very distant to us, so it is easier to put them first.
Sometimes, we are just afraid to let God take us into unfamiliar territory. We want to stay where it is safe, because we know that God will take us to where we are uncomfortable. He will take us to place that may require us to look within our own lives.