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Summary: The decision to be a follower of Christ places all other affections in perspective.

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Title: Sometimes Jesus Isn’t Warm and Cuddly

Text: Luke 14:25-33

Thesis: The decision to be a follower of Christ places all other affections in perspective.

Introduction

The current issue of Newsweek Magazine (September 10, 2007) featured Fred Thompson on the front cover along side the caption, Lazy Like a Fox. In the feature article, Newsweek reporter Holly Bailey wrote of Thompson’s visit at the Minnesota State Fair, “Everywhere he turns at this morning’s meet-and-greet… he is surrounded by hundreds of star-struck onlookers.”

On Thursday night, while all of the other candidates in the race for the Republican nomination for the office of President of the United States, were participating in a forum in New Hampshire, Fred Thompson was announcing his candidacy to the nation on NBC’s Tonight Show, Hollywood style.

The Friday, September 7, 2007 edition of The New York Times ran a column stating, “Fred Thompson’s goal is to don the Reagan Mantle.” The columnist quoted Citizens United president, David Bossie who said of Thompson, “It’s a fair comparison because of Fred Thompson’s ability to communicate and his likeability just comes across.”

The New York Times columnist states that Thompson is out to, “woo conservatives who are disheartened with the current slate of Republican candidates.”

It does not matter if it is Fred Thompson, or Rudolph Giuliani, or Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or any other candidate in the race for president. They all want to appeal to the masses. They all want to draw a crowd of adoring supporters who will carry them into the White House.

No politician today is saying: “Let’s throw open the borders. Let’s tax the middle-class. Let’s reinstitute the draft and invade Iran. Let’s forget about public education. Let’s produce more greenhouse gasses and spur along global warming and the melting of sea ice so that the few remaining polar bears in the world will be relegated to the Canadian Arctic Islands. Let’s not worry about unemployment, inflation, controlling interest rates, the GNP or the balance of trade. Let’s keep skimming the surpluses off of

Social Security and not worry about what becomes of the aging in our country. Let’s not bother to give thought to the aging infra-structure of our nation and let the bridges collapse and the power grid black-out.”

Every politician wants to present himself or herself in a way that appeals to as many people as possible… or at least to speak to a group in such a way as to win the affection and the vote of the group being addressed. Those who want to gather a following try to appeal to the good will of their listeners.

The opening line of our text today says, “Great crowds were following Jesus…” So, Jesus was also something of a public figure. However,

he was either having a bad day or he, unlike most pastors and politicians, was not the least interested in how many people followed him around.

When he turned and spoke to the crowd, he was no warm and cuddly candidate for King. One might wonder just what it was he was trying to do?

Was he, as in agricultural terminology, trying to sift or winnow out the chaff from the grain. Was he, in educational terms, testing the applicants to see who would be admitted to the Jesus School of Discipleship? Was he, in military terminology seeing who would wash out of boot camp? Was he in athletic terminology attempting to determine who would make the team and who would be cut?

I wonder if Jesus was simply expressing his desire that those who chose to follow him be sincere and not just hangers-on, along for the ride?

One Sunday after church, Bonnie and I drove up to Boulder to have lunch at Murphy’s. The décor includes signs and placards with numerous amusing and cynical sayings or adages.

One quip that caught my eyes reads, “When the going gets tough, people leave.”

We are reminded of the conversation between Jesus and a wealthy man in Luke 18 who asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to receive eternal life. Jesus answered him saying, “You only lack one thing. Go and sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and they you will have treasure in heaven.” The story teller said that the man went away sad because he was very rich. It seems for some that the desire to follow Jesus and to have the hope of eternal life is superceded by the desire for earthly ease and affluence.

In nearly every venue of life there are times and situations that are tough and it is during those tough times that we discover who is truly sincere, devoted, and loyal… who will stick and see things through.

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