Summary: This sermon explores that being a Christians involves costs and benefits. Being aware of the costs and the benefits of being a Christian is important, otherwise we end up with an unbalanced view of what it means to be a disciple.
For every decision you make.
For every way you live your life.
There are prices to pay.
And the price is not just money.
But every decision we make will cost us in time and relationships.
And at times, when we make a decision,
it prevents us or stops us from making another decision.
We may miss out on something.
For instance when we decide to go on a holiday.
We know it will cost us money, sometimes more than we think.
And going on a holiday will also cost us time.
And it may mean that we can’t spend time with someone or some group because we are physically away from them.
And unfortunately some Christians when they go on a holiday
also go on a holiday from God.
This is not healthy.
And going on a holiday means we will need to miss out on something else.
We can’t use that time or money to buy new curtains, to upgrade the car, to fix up the garden, to spend time with some people, or to earn more money.
Every decision we make involves bearing a number of costs.
However making decisions determined only by what something costs us is not the best way to live our lives.
If the only deciding factor was the cost of things,
then our pantries would be stocked with supermarket brands such as black and gold, and home brand products.
We would not see anyone.
We wouldn’t even go to work because that would cost us time.
We would never turn on the electricity in our homes.
Life would be pretty dim and miserable if we made decisions only on what it costs us.
Occasionally I come across stories of people who have accumulated great wealth,
And in some cases no one would have known.
Because they lived a fairly miserable life.
They lived in a squaller,
they hated sharing their time or money with anyone,
and they were miserable and complained a lot because all they could think of was the cost of things.
Of course we need to consider the cost of things,
but we also need to consider the benefits.
The reason any of us are prepared to incur costs in our lives is because of the benefits they bring.
And in today’s reading Jesus begins to unravel what the cost and benefits are in being a Christian.
And you can’t have one without the other.
Many of us are happy to receive God’s forgiveness for who we are and what we have done or failed to do.
But I want you to consider very seriously are you happy to also allow God to be your Lord?
Are you happy for Jesus not just influence but to transform and direct how you live?
Are you willing to allow God to speak to you about your attitudes,
your approach to life?
Do you take seriously what scripture says and the commands of Jesus.
The Good News is not just receiving forgiveness,
but it also involves living a new life under Christ.
As God’s disciples our life should evolve around three things.
The first is loving God.
The second is loving our community, Christians and non Christians. That doesn’t mean accepting or approving of everything they do.
And the third is loving your fellow Christians, that is each other.
This is not my idea or even an idea from a few people from our parish or congregation.
This is what God says the Christian life is.
Scripture is quite clear on this, from Matthew 22 verses 37.
37 Jesus replied: ”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
And take one of the three out of the equation then we are failing to fully live the Christian life.
Please also notice something, God doesn’t say we have to like people.
Some of us are pretty hard to like.
All of us are different, and some of our differences absolutely grate on each other.
Instead God calls us to love each other and bear with each other
To love someone, despite their differences.
And loving God and loving people requires us to deny ourselves.
This is what Jesus is getting to in his discussion with Peter.
Listen again to Matthew 16, verses 24 and 25.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.