Summary: Jesus reminds us that one of the guaranteed things about being a Christian is that we will encounter troubles. This sermon helps us view troubles from God’s perspective and that we should not be afraid of it.
When you sense difficulties how do you react?
When you sense problems what is your response?
Recently I saw some hilarious videos of how people respond when they are in trouble
In one video a man was carrying a box of photocopier paper when some jumped out from the behind corner and scared him….he jumped, dropped the box and put his hand up in the air as if he was surrendering.
In another video someone throws a toy spider at a man carrying a beer, he throws his beer in the air then turns to the person who threw the spider to him in the boxing position.
How do you respond to trouble?
Are you a person who surrenders?
Are you a person who fights?
Or perhaps you are a person who enjoys the challenge of working through problems?
Or perhaps you view problems as an opportunity?
In today’s reading from Luke Jesus highlights that as Christians it is guaranteed that we will face troubles.
That the Christian life is not an easy life.
That following Jesus,
standing up for God’s approach to life
means that we should expect opposition, persecution, betrayal and even trouble.
Imagine that as a slogan,
come join our church and you will be opposed, persecuted, betrayed and experience trouble.
Now the surprising thing is we expect trouble from those who are distant from us.
We expect problems from people who are in another country or not like us.
But today Jesus reminds us that trouble comes not just from people who are distant from us
but from people who are close to us.
Trouble comes from people who are close to us.
Do you experience this at times?
Verse 16 says you will be betrayed by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends.
This is the reality of the Christian life.
We will experience troubles, even from those who we thought would support us.
But this is not what many of us want.
When it comes to Christianity most of us probably look at Christianity similar to some of the followers of Hagar the Horrible view being part of his army as depicted in the following comic script of Hagar the Horrible.
Hagar is inciting his troops. "This is the moment we’ve been waiting for men! The moment we do battle with the enemy! Is everyone here?
They shout: "YES!"
Hagar continues: "Okay men -- repeat after me. ’I am a Viking Warrior!’"
"I AM A VIKING WARRIOR!" they shout.
"And I will fight to the death for what I believe!" (pause)
Frame four: silence again
Frame five: Hagar asks: "Okay, why aren’t you repeating after me?!"
One meek Viking speaks for them all: "Hagar, the men would like to change that to ’and I will fight hard until it’s time for dinner."
Most of us enjoy the Christian life until it gets a little tough.
The popular view of many people is that if God is on our side then everything should be going right.
Our life should be free of problems.
However this is not the biblical view.
This is far from reality for a Christian.
Jesus didn’t say take up my sack of gold and follow me, he said take up your cross and follow me.
The reality is that following Jesus and living your life as a Christian will not stop you from experiencing and seeing trouble.
In some instances trouble for being a Christian is obvious.
In some places Christians are physically hurt simply for their beliefs.
In your bulletins under the family devotion material you will find the web page www.persecution.org listed.
Here you can read story after story of Christians around the world who are persecuted because of their faith.
One story is that of Christian family living in a village in India who were beaten because they refused to participate in a Hindu ceremony.
Other persecutions are not expected.
We expect churches to be places of peace.
And yet history shows that this is not the case.
Members turn on pastors.
Pastors turn on members.
Members turn on each other.
A significant number of pastors each year leave parish ministry because of burnout, due to personal attacks.
You probably know someone who is no longer attending church because they couldn’t handle some of the conflict.
And remember Jesus reminds us that we will get trouble from those closest to us.
However, if we think about it for a moment.
The church is one of the most likely places for unrest, for conflict.
And there are at least two reasons.
One is the church is what God uses to bring change into the world,
change into your life.
And the social sciences tell us that change will always bring conflict of some form.