Summary: We don't mind going to the cross as long as we can take a number of comfortable and convenient things along with us. Jesus does not call us to comfort. He calls us to die.
Not A Fan Part 4: The Comfortable Cross
January 28, 2018 1 King 12:25-33 Luke 9:51-62
Some of the ideas in this sermon came from Kyle Idleman’s series Fan or Follower which we did at our church.
We are now in week 4 of our Not a Fan series. We have looked at Fan or Follower, Follow Me, Intimacy and today the Comfortable cross.
Let me ask you this, if you needed to lay your head on something to sleep at night would you choose this pillow or this rock. If you wanted a good night sleep, would you choose this bed or this cot. If you had to drive across the country with kids and the gasoline was covered, would you choose this compact or this SUV. If you had to go on a five mile walk which pair shoes would you rather wear.
One of the things that is near the top of your mind in each of these situations is your comfort. How many of you think that comfort is not only a good thing but an important thing? We are constantly bombarded with messages from all around us emphasizing comfort. We even have comfortable exercise machines. We are told we need a comfortable retirement plan. Its good to have comfortable leather seats in our car when we are driving. We even expect our church building to be comfortable with heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer.
The only problem with comfort is that we allow it to creep over into our spiritual life. We want to have a comfortable religion. In the Old Testament God’s people had been one nation under King David and King Solomon. It split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam became king in the north, but Jerusalem the capital, was in the south. He came up with a plan for a comfortable religion to keep the people’s allegiance.
He set up two temples with two golden cows and put one in the south of his kingdom and one in the north. He pointed out how much more comfortable it would be to worship his gods than to through all that trouble to get to Jerusalem where God had told them to worship. The people of God, who knew what God had done for them, choose comfort over being true followers. Once again we see that they had been fans of God, but not followers.
The fictitious story is told of a man who went around complaining about the size of the cross the Lord had given him to bear. He complained how his suffering was far greater than that of others. He even begged the Lord to reduce the size of the cross. Finally the Lord said okay, I am going to let you see the spiritual world. I want you to see the crosses people are called to bear and allow you to go in and choose one for yourself. The man saw these crosses in the area. Some of them were very large.
He finally saw two small crosses. He didn’t want the Lord to think he was lazy so he chose the bigger of the two smaller crosses. The Lord asked him, if he was sure that was the one he wanted. The man began to explain to the Lord that he knew it small, but that he needed a break from the cross he had been carrying and after all he did not take up the cross that was the smallest. The Lord said, “well the reason I asked is because, that’s the cross that you were carrying and doing all the complaining about.”
The problem with comfort is that it always costs us something to have it. Many times we refuse to acknowledge the price we pay to keep it. Even more important it clashes with Jesus’s statement in In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” So what do comfort-craving fans do with something like the cross. Very easy, we make it a symbol and keep it at that level. We put crosses on our buildings. We put them in our churches. We put them on t-shirts, we put them on necklaces and earrings. We hang them in our cars. We do just about everything, except pick them up to follow Jesus.
Last week, we emphasized, a person picked up a cross to die on it. We like to talk about the life that Jesus gives to us, and Jesus does give us new life. He delivers us from all kinds of messes that we have gotten our lives wrapped up in. He does give us the promise of eternal life when we die. But the price of all of that on our end is a willingness to die to ourselves in order to follow Christ. Every day, you have to make a decision to follow Christ. If you’re not, you are not listening to the Holy Spirit in your life.