Summary: Following Jesus is dangerous but worth the risk.
“Losing to Win”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor, Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
This week’s Gospel Lesson picks up where we left off last Sunday.
Jesus had been traveling through all the towns and villages teaching and preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God, and as He entered these towns and villages He was deeply moved because He saw so many folks who were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Many of these folks did not even know that anyone loved them, let alone God.
But if they could know…
…if someone would show them Jesus’ love—it would change these person’s lives!
So Jesus looked at the crowds of people and He spoke to His disciples saying, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
And the first “workers” who Jesus sent were the 12 apostles.
Here are some of the instructions Jesus gave them, “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons…
In other words, “Get ‘messy’ with the people.”
Then Jesus told them not to take any money along with them, but to trust in God.
He also warned them that they would be persecuted, flogged, and arrested.
And in verse 26 of our Gospel Lesson Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of them.”
And Jesus tells those who go out into God’s harvest field that everything and everyway their lives once were will be knocked on its ear!
Because Jesus’ message is so new, so radical, that it will change all existing structures and ways of thinking, even some that are most cherished and ingrained.
And when the new order brought about by Jesus’ message confronts the old order of things—a clash will take place!
There will be conflict.
There will be chaos.
Some folks may have to choose between following Jesus and staying in relationship with parents and other family members.
When I was a brand new Christian I was having a conversation with an old friend.
She said to me, “If I became a Christian, my parents would kill me!”
Those are, sometimes, the choices folks are faced with when confronted with the decision whether or not to follow Jesus.
When I first became a Christian, I soon found that my old friends and I would never be as close as we once were.
The reason: We no longer had much of anything in common.
Losing family members and friends in order to follow Jesus…
…that can be an extremely painful cross.
These first disciples, what did they lose?
They not only lost their family and friends.
They became separated from their own people.
They became separated from the Jewish race.
If anyone ever tries to tell you that following Jesus is easy—don’t believe them for a minute!
It is the hardest thing you will ever attempt to do.
As Jesus tells us in John Chapter 15, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.
As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
That is why the world hates you…
…No servant is greater than his master.
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey your’s also.”
My friends, as I mentioned last week...
…there is a big difference between being a fan of Jesus and being a follower or apprentice!!!
A fan is not required to do much.
But a follower is a high roller!
Jesus says in verse 39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
If we are going to be followers of Jesus Christ, we can forget about playing it safe!
Christianity is an extreme sport, and there are no spectators—only players!!!
If you like to be comfortable and not think too much about the troubles of your neighbor—Christianity is not for you!
If you only want to hang around folks who are ‘just like you,’ instead of sitting with the beggar, those on the margins, those who might not have had a shower in a while then Christianity is not for you!
Christianity is ‘messy business.’
Jesus says, “anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
This means, to be a follower of Jesus Christ means that we will not only endure inconvenience, but rather, like Jesus, we must willingly choose to sacrifice everything, including family and life itself, to be a true follower!