Summary: The problem in our society is that we have become a people who focus upon the Theology of Glory—a casual in vogue religion that demands nothing and promises everything—instead of a society that lives the Theology of the Cross.
Sermon for Matthew 10:24-39
June 22nd 2008
This past week I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with seven of our confirmation kids at Lutheran Hills. The morning hours they were stuck with me, where I was to teach them something important about our faith. But what? Where do I begin?
So I said to myself, “Self since we are a church that teaches that God promises to come to us through Word and Sacrament, sure God can come to us anyway God chooses, but over and over God promises to come to us and work on our behalf through the Word and Sacrament, the Word of the Holy Scriptures, would it not be wise for our youth, and our not so young to know and understand what is found in that word?
So each morning we started with stories from the Bible. All kinds of stories. Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions Den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and then moved to the miracles of Jesus.
What we noticed quiet quickly was that in all of the stories the characters found themselves in seemly impossible situations. Predicaments that from our perspective would be absolutely hopeless. Life that had become quite complicated.
This part of the story we could all relate to rather well. That’s pretty much how life seem to work, in and out of impossible, hopeless predicaments and situations that complicate the heck out of living.
In Jasper Indiana we lived in a farm house, on three acres, surrounded by hundreds of acres of farm land, so we had cats, lots of them…at one time eight. There was one in particular I was rather fond of and that was a large gray tomcat named Smoky. Smoky was in charge of keeping all the unwanted evil, sometimes large unwanted evil critter away from our house.
Poor Smoky seemed to get in some type of fight every single night. He was missing part of both ears. His eyes were swollen shut most of them. Weekly the furry little creature would come home limping with cuts over most of its cat body. I sometime really felt sorry for poor ole Smoky.
But them it hit me. Am I, are you really that much different than poor ole Smoky. I mean poor ole David, I do spend a lot of time trying my best to keep the evil critters out of my life with not all that much luck I must say. Sometimes I feel like my ears have been half chewed off, my eyes don’t see as clearly as I wish, and by the end of the week I come limping home from all the life fights that have left me felling like poor ole Smoky.
Why does life have to be so complicated and full of predicaments with seemingly hopeless situations?
Yet what we learn at camp, what we learn through the Bible stories is that this difficulty in earthly living is a reality for all people, even the ones who following the One God. Poor ole Jeremiah, in today’s reading, one of God’s greatest prophets says, “I have become a laughing stock all day long; everyone mocks me. All my closes friends are watching for me to stumble.” Poor old David, one of God’s greatest servants and kings writes, “I have become a stranger to my own kindred, an alien to my mother’s children. Those who sit at the gat murmur against me, and the even the drunkards make songs about me.”
Poor ole Smoky, poor ole Jeremiah. Poor old David. Poor ole me.
Like in the biblical stories for church camp, the readings today, and our own life story one can see pretty quickly the difficulties that arrive from simply being—being not a cat like Smoky—but a human being. What we need is something, or someone who will just make all these life fights just go away and bring us peace.
Yet Jesus speaks to us this morning by saying, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
So much for an easy way out uh?
And believe it or not these were some pretty serious words. Jesus was interrupting long term beliefs, ways of life, even culture. For this life-saving faith, this belief in One Almighty, Powerful, Merciful, Forgiving God of Justice to get off the ground, and come to life, people could not simply continue along casually. They had to make tremendous sacrifices—sacrifices that cut to the core of one’s being. “Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”