Summary: This sermon looks at Lk 9:57-10:20 and argues that mission is an apocalyptic activity whereby we participate in the victory of the kingdom of God.
Lk 9.57-10.20: How to be an Apocalyptic Christian in 4 Easy Steps
When I pose the question, “How to be an Apocalyptic Christian?” numerous thoughts or images might fly through your mind. Is it like David Koresh and the Branch Dividians of Waco, Texas U.S.A? Is that like one of those preachers who stand on street corners with signs around their neck that the world is about to end? Incidentally, on the Gold Coast [Australia] I once came across a lady who walked around with a sign saying that Ross Perot is the anti-Christ. Or is an apocalyptic Christian someone who owns the complete series of left-behind books. Did you know that some of the first Anabaptists were ultra-Apocalyptic, e.g. in Munster in Germany in 1533 Jan Matthys declared himself to be Enoch, Munster was the New Jerusalem and practiced polygamy and sharing of community of goods.
For a start what does Apocalyptic mean? Well its not a Latin American dance!
When defined (perhaps overly simply) Apocalyptic is: a religious perspective embodied by a community that sees itself as living in the midst of an evil world and eagerly awaiting God’s action to dramatically deliver them from it.
I submit to you that Christians are called to be Apocalyptic. We believe in the final victory of God in Christ over evil, over the world, over sin, over death and over Satan. But (and this is my crucial point) we are not only called to await for the coming triumph but to participate in its arrival.
Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer and say, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we are praying an apocalyptic prayer for the Kingdom of God to be manifested on earth.
Now we could be very passive and pessimistic about it. Separate ourselves completely from the world and build a commune some where in the outback.
Say the Lord’s Prayer 3 times a day; Baptize ourselves once a month. Write a list of rules and regulation on how to sustain our own purity. Write a commentary on the book of Daniel. And wait for God to zap everyone. Instead we are called join in the cosmic saga of how God intends to repossess the world for himself: in short mission. I propose four steps to becoming apocalyptic Christians.
1. Renounce all other allegiances and participate in the Kingdom Mission (Lk 9.57-62)
This passage is set at the beginning of the journey towards Jerusalem: Jesus’ own mission to the cross. Three characters are paraded before us who react differently to the call to follow Jesus in mission.
He says, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” The language here is laden with symbolism as to what Jesus means. Fox: Possibly denotes King Herod (an Idumean). Birds of the Air – Symbol for Gentiles in OT and apocalyptic Jewish literature. Son of Man – Who according to Daniel 7 is representative of Israel who inherits the kingdom on behalf of Israel. In essence Jesus could be saying that everyone is at home in Israel accept those who belong in Israel. The true Israel and all who belong to her are disinherited and dispossessed. If you want to join me you have to join the ranks of the homeless.
What this saying strikes at are those followers of Jesus who say, “Yeah, sure, I’ll follow you. Count me in.” But they are committed to the point of convenience. I’ll follow you
As long as I never go hungry
As long as I never get cold
As long as I always have a roof above my head.
As long as my bank account is left in tack
As long as my standard of living is maintained
But if you do follow Jesus, then a life of subsistence is a possibility.
Here Jesus takes the initiative in calling (vv. 59-60). Now this is a very hard saying to deal with – it is bone rattling. The key thing is that the Father is not yet dead, if he was he would already be at the funeral. It was taken for granted that the eldest son would bury his parents and set their affairs in order – it was the honorable thing. Don’t do it means dishonor. This type of disciple is committed to the point of respectability. I will follow after I have publicly fulfilled my traditional responsibility. I will follow as long as my public reputation remains in tact. I will follow after I’ve got myself a good education, a good job, a good family, paid off the house. And as long as I don’t have to embarrass myself.