Summary: A sermon about the abuse of Christian liberty and the call to serious discipleship.
SERMON TITLE: To Much of a Good Thing!
TEXT: Luke 14:25-35
What is your favorite type of restaurant? Do you like to dine in those eateries that serve particular varieties of ethnic foods—like Indian, Chinese, or Hispanic? Do you like steak houses that specialize in serving finest cuts of beef? Do you prefer seafood restaurants serving shrimp, oysters, or clams? Maybe you like pizza places, pasta joints, or fast-food restaurants. What is your favorite type of restaurant?
Me, I like a restaurant that gives me some choices. I like restaurants that offer me some options when it comes time to eat. I like a place where I can choose to skip over the salads and vegetables, and move right on to the macaroni and cheese, yeast rolls and fried chicken. I like a place where I can put chocolate ice-cream on my chocolate cake and smother it with chocolate syrup. (Am I making anybody hungry?) Me, I like a buffet—a smorgasbord—a place that offers me the freedom to make some choices when it comes time to eat.
What I like about a smorgasbord is the same thing we all value about our society. We value the freedom to make choices about the way we are going to live our lives. We value the freedom to choose between banks, brokers, grocers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, politicians and gas stations. We value the freedom of being able to choose the make, model, and color of our car. In short, we value the freedom to make choices about how we are going to live our lives.
I. Too Much of a Good Thing
I love going to a buffet. I love the freedom it affords me to choose what I want to eat and how much I want to eat. The problem is that usually I abuse this freedom. I make some bad decisions. That’s what the doctor was trying to tell me this past week. He said I need to drop some weight and lower my cholesterol. In essence he was saying that I’ve had too much of a good thing. The freedom to choose has allowed me to eat what I’ve like without considering whether its good for me!
Sometimes I wonder if our society has not had too much of a good thing. Do you ever stop and wonder whether we have too many choices? Do you ever stop and think that perhaps we have too much freedom? Think about it! We have the freedom to make so many choices about the way we are going to live our lives that we have developed an attitude that says that we have the right to make choices about everything. We take this attitude with us everywhere we go. We even take it to church.
We think we have the right to make choices about everything. We even think we have the right to make choices when it comes to the way we will live our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. Many times we swagger up to a smorgasbord of discipleship to choose what we want out of the Christian faith. On one corner of our plate we put a small helping of church—the kind that meets our emotional and social needs without asking too much in return. In another section of our plate we place a good-natured preacher whose sermons are always affirming, never challenging, and always over by twelve o’clock noon. In the middle of our plate we put a pleasant prayer life, the kind that makes us feel good about ourselves, not the kind that will keep us up all night in sobs of sorrowful repentance. In another section of our plate we put a very small serving of stewardship, the kind that allows us the right to give only the widow’s mite, even though our savings accounts are quite full. We go to smorgasbord of discipleship and serve ourselves heaping helping of the blessing of the Christian life, avoiding the aspects we don’t like—the one’s that talk about servanthood, cross-bearing and sacrifice. Given the choice, we want a Christian discipleship that isn’t too difficult. Wilbur Reese writes with biting sarcasm:
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of him to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want the warmth of the womb not a new birth.
I want about a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.
I’d like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
That’s pretty well how we approach discipleship, isn’t it? We want to pick and choose what our discipleship will involve. We want the blessings without the commitment. We want to call the shots and choose all the disciplines. We want Savior Jesus but not Sovereign Jesus. It seems to me that maybe we’ve had too much of a good thing.