Summary: In this message we look at 5 snapshots/pictures of the church. These snapshots help the listener see the NT church as it is intended to be.
“The High Cost of Discipleship”
I think that one of the most deceptive things we see in our world today are ads that tell us one thing but when we look closer there is a lot they are not telling us. Ads for cars are notorious for this. You’ve seen them. They advertise a car at one price only to find when you go in that was not the real price. Or you get a credit card with a low interest rate and then in the small print you learn that this rate is only good for the first 3 hours after you use the card. Then your rate will be 15% and if you’re late it will go to 30%. They call it the Discover card...you use it and when you get the bill you Discover how much you really owe. Part of the problem rests with us as the consumer. We can be very gullible..we can be naive and we can fail to ask a very simple question...how much does it really cost? It is something we don’t like to think about too often but everything comes at a cost.
Anything that we do in life that is worth doing will cost us something. I looked through our church membership file this week and i thought about each of you and the work you do, the job you hold or have held and i thought about your background. I found barbers, bankers, boat repair, construction people...carpenters, plumber, painter, dentist, nurses, accountant, funeral directors, physical therapist, grocer, sales people, real estate people, teachers, a lawyer, truck drivers and even a pastor. And I thought about each of those professions and they all have at east one thing in common...they all require training. A lot of training. A lot of hard work. A lot of sacrifice. There is a price to be paid. This morning we are looking a two parables, very simple but with a profound truth we need to get hold of: There is a price to pay to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. One of these parables is taken from the agricultural wold in that day and it deals with construction/building. The other deals with government and politics and war. Jesus told us these stories I think for two reasons: (1) He told us these stories to teach us to count what it would cost to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. (2) He told us these stories to teach us to count what it would cost if we choose a different path.
The setting for these stories was during the time of Jesus when there were large crowds following Him around from Galilee to Jerusalem. They loved following him as long as the miracles were being performed and the crowds were being fed. They were ready to make Him king. Some of his closest friends, Peter, James and John all wanted positions in His kingdom...they even argued over who would be able to sit at His right hand. But Jesus knew that things were about to get tough. Things were going to get hard. His ministry would come under attack. He knew this road was taking Him to the cross. He knew that for someone to follow Him that life could be difficult. I think that people tend to choose to serve Jesus on different levels of commitment. These are like concentric circles. You know what that is. It’s like throwing rocks in a pond and you see the circles grow and grow. I call these the 5 circles of commitment.
The first level is the Community. These are people who are not members of any church but they occasionally attend...and they are certainly always welcome.
The 2nd level is the Crowd. These are people who are not members of the church but they do attend on a regular basis.
The 3rd level is the Congregation. These are active members.
The 4th level are the Committed. These are active members who are attending and are actively growing in the faith.
The 5th level is the Core. These are not only committed followers of Christ but they are helping others to get to the same commitment. Now knowing this look at what Jesus has to say about discipleship. He gives us 5 word pictures here. Each one is like a snapshot, an image of a true disciple.
Snapshot: 1 a family. The idea here is that we love Jesus above all. Jesus speaks a startling message here. He says in verse 26...... In the parables Jesus would often use figures of speech to give His words a greater impact. It is called hyperbole. He said if your right hand offends you, cut it off. He talked about it being harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. We do it too. We exaggerate in order to make a point. When Jesus used this method He had a huge point to make and we must listen very carefully. In this passage Jesus is telling us we must love Him, more than anything else-including our family. I must love Jesus more than my children, I must love Jesus more than my wife and they must do the same. Your love for Jesus should be so powerful that in comparison, it seems as if you hate everyone else. Now it is also true that sometimes your love for Jesus will alienate you from others, even your family.